Open enrollment is the time for you to re-assess your health insurance. If in previous years, you have been paying for health care benefits at a high premium and you didn’t get your money’s worth because you just didn’t need that many doctor appointments, or whatever, now is the time to make a change. And, the reverse is equally true. If you chose a plan that didn’t cover prescriptions since you weren’t taking medication and now you do, get that coverage.
Health insurance premiums are projected to increase by five percent next year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s recent national survey, companies have been paying more for their employees’ premiums than they have for their own family’s coverage. On average, only 18 percent of the total premium is shouldered by the employee while the rest is paid for by the employer. Those with family coverage pay 28 percent of the total premium from their own pocket and the remaining 72 percent is covered by the employer. Of course, that means you probably aren’t looking at a raise in the near future, either, so your share is not completely reflected in what is deducted from your paycheck.
Many employers encourage workers to shop around for less expensive health care by offering health plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles. These plans are suited for healthy people who don’t have chronic health problems. Certain of these policies can be used with a Health Savings Account. Your employer may also offer some type of Health Reimbursement Arrangement. Both can help employees spend less for health care.
Health Savings Accounts belong to the employee even if he or she loses the job. The account is portable and HSA funds earn tax-free interest that’s carried over year after year. It’s never taken away as money in flexible savings accounts is. Health Reimbursement Arrangements, however, are completely controlled by the employer.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.