When it comes to health benefits, this is a question that has been asked for many years. Why do my premiums keep going up? With the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there were many standards that were set in place that were major improvements to citizens. Improvements that needed to happen. In many cases, these improvements affect the cost of premium.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to why premiums keep going up because there are many pieces to the puzzle that cannot be controlled. In its most simple form, premiums are affected mostly by the cost of healthcare and claims. Healthcare is affected by many avenues such as technology improvements, government policy, malpractice insurance, malpractice claims, uninsured expenses… and the list goes on.
What you can control
So what can you control? There are things that you can do to adjust the cost of insurance for both you and your employer.
Understand how to use your benefits
- Really understand how you use your benefits. Everyone is a consumer of healthcare and most have insurance policies, but so many do not know how their insurance works. While there definitely can be parts that are complicated, having a basic understanding of how your policy works can make such a difference in your choices. Do you have multiple choices that are offered to you by your employer? Do you understand the differences in your choices? If you calculated the cost of your prescriptions and the differences in the deductions from the plan choices – would it make more sense to choose that copay plan over the high deductible health plan? Does it make sense to pay more for a network that you aren’t utilizing the specific doctors on, and could you receive the same great care from a doctor in a different, deeper discounted network? Sure, that large deductible is scary, but are there accounts or avenues that can offset it? Understanding how you use your benefits enables you to be a better consumer of your healthcare dollars. Open enrollment is a great time to analyze your choices and ask those questions.
Take advantage of preventive services
- Take advantage of those no-cost preventive services. While we are on the topic of understanding your benefits, did you know that your plan provides free preventive care such as immunizations, mammograms, and certain blood tests? Did you know that most dental plans will give you an extra free cleaning if you are pregnant or have diabetes? Did you know that many cases of diabetes were initially caught by way of an eye examination?
No-cost preventive care was a unifying regulation that came as a result of ACA. There are sometimes age and medical history stipulations that can change the way the claim is paid, but look at your policy and see what is available to you. This can help change how much healthcare costs you by catching issues early and treating them before they lead to more catastrophic concerns and high-cost medications. This is definitely a way to avoid your premiums going up.
Research additional services
- Know what additional services are available to you at no cost. All carriers, and I mean all of them, offer additional services as part of being a customer. And some of these are no small matter. There are incentivized health assessments, walk programs that pay you money, pharmacy discount programs, pharmacy assistance programs that get your meds almost for free, legal services, discount programs, gym discounts,… it seriously doesn’t end. Every carrier you have a policy with will have something extra that you can utilize, insurance-related or not. According to a 2008 national survey by Harris Interactive, 91 percent of employers “believed they could reduce their health care costs by influencing employees to adopt healthier lifestyles,” wrote two Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) experts in the July 10, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s definitely something that is worth the time to look into.
Seek out innovative ideas
- Seek out innovative ideas. There are so many “game changers” out there promoting their product or platform that really do make a difference. Every platform isn’t the right thing for every person, but especially for employers, talk to your brokers and ask them about the innovative ideas that are being pitched to them and be open to it. You might be surprised what would become a “game-changer” for you.
In conclusion, there are so many things that are out of your control when it comes to healthcare benefits. This just makes it even more important to stay educated and up-to-date on what you can control. If you would like more information about Diversified Insurance Group, go here.