Open Enrollment for health insurance won’t begin again until this fall, so you won’t be able to make changes to your plan until then. But in the meantime, you might be wondering how you can lower your premiums when it’s time to reevaluate your policy. Take these steps to possibly obtain a lower-priced health insurance plan this fall, keeping in mind, of course, that premiums tend to change a bit each year.
Choose an HMO over a PPO. A PPO plan is often more expensive because you can see any doctors you want without a referral. It’s convenient, but you’re probably paying for that convenience. If you seldom or never need specialists, you can probably switch to a cheaper HMO plan without feeling too inconvenienced.
Choose a higher deductible. As with all forms of insurance, a higher deductible equals a lower premium. Just make sure that you can truly afford your deductible, because it might matter in the event of a serious illness or accident. If you choose a high-deductible plan, you might also be able to open a health savings account, which allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for your healthcare expenses.
Stop smoking. Insurers can’t charge you higher premiums due to health conditions or your gender, but they can charge smokers more. Since prices can be 50 percent higher for the same plan when you smoke, giving it up could really impact your budget.
Reassess your health insurance needs. Does your plan include a lot of bells and whistles that you never use? Start tracking your health care expenditures to see what you actually use, and what you probably don’t need. You might be able to switch to a less complicated, and cheaper, plan during Open Enrollment this fall.
Compare your plan with your spouse’s plan. If you are both offered health insurance plans through work, compare the policies to see which one is a better deal. One of you might opt to be covered under the other spouse’s policy, rather than maintaining separate plans.
Access your full subsidy. Covered California provides subsidies to help you cover the cost of your health insurance premiums. These subsidies are based upon your income and family size – something to keep in mind throughout the year. No one is saying you should adopt a child or quit a job to obtain a larger subsidy, but if those things have happened and you’re feeling a financial pinch, you can apply for a larger subsidy to help with your premiums. In fact, if you add a member to your family through birth or adoption, or lose your job, you can re-apply for health insurance coverage and the appropriate subsidy for 60 days following these qualifying life events. That means you don’t have to wait until Open Enrollment this fall!