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slides: 10 Ways to Save Money On Your Healthcare Plan in 2013

Monday, September 24, 2012

 

It's almost open enrollment season, the time for employees to learn about their benefit plans, understand costs, and enroll in their elected options. Since personal circumstances change every year, as do costs, employees should take advantage of this opportunity to engage in the process because it could yield big savings. Here are 10 tips to get the most from your benefits purchase in 2013.



 

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1. Participate

Employers today offer a mix of communication approaches. Seek out meetings, view online resources and gather printed materials about each benefit.

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2. Compare

Review your current plan and benchmark benefits and costs to other available options. If you’re married, carefully review your spouse’s plan selections and consider total expected out-of-pocket costs to determine which choice provides more benefits for less. Remember to add in your premium contribution plus expected copays, deductibles and coinsurance when calculating total expenses.

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3. Think consumerism

Consumer driven options may save you money, and taxes. Don't dismiss Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), particularly since some employers reimburse portions of deductibles or fund HSAs, tax-free to you. Plus, these options offer the opportunity to save on premiums, particularly if you don’t anticipate expenses tied to the deductible. And if you don’t use the money in the accounts, you can save it for later use. In 2013, individuals can save $3,250 or $6,450 for family coverage, plus an additional $1,000 if you are over age 55.

Don’t forget FSAs. While healthcare reform places a cap of $2,500 on what can be set aside in an FSA in 2013, this amount can go a long way to paying for qualified  medical expenses. Copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for medical, dental, pharmacy and vision expenses qualify.

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4. Wellness makes cents

Employers are jumping on the wellness bandwagon and offering premium savings if you participate in a voluntary wellness program. That means all you have to do is participate in wellness and pay less for health insurance – as much as 20 percent less thanks to incentives. So getting healthy can have big rewards.

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5. Don't overlook vision

Employers are adding vision programs to allow employers to gain purchasing power at the retail level. Premiums are low, which means families can save big, particularly when there are two or more family members with eyewear needs. Photo: www.seniorliving.org

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6. Rx savvy

Rx costs keep rising. Compare copays by tiers and seek equivalent alternatives, or lower cost over-the-counter options when available. Be active when prescribed medication. Let your doctor know if a drug is too expensive and ask for a lower copay alternative, or switch to mail order for maintenance medications if reduced copays are offered. Shop the big chains like Walmart and Target for savings opportunities on widely used brand names and generics. Don’t forget that healthcare reform requires insurance carriers to cover hormonal oral contraception covered in tier 1 at no copay. If you are taking these types of medication in tiers 2,3 , ask you doctor if it makes sense to switch to tier 1 alternatives.

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7. PCP visits

Annual preventive care visits and age appropriate screenings are covered at 100 percent. Don't forget to take care of yourself and family members through the year.

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8. Cost estimators

Both BCBSRI and UnitedHealthcare offer new and improved technology for consumers to get accurate cost information before procedures. Consumers can shop by care setting and determine if it makes economic sense to have a procedure in the office, at an outpatient facility or in a hospital – and compare the cost and quality differences of each.

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9. Be choosy

Consider quality rankings when selecting doctors. Shop to see if your physician's office participates in a patient-centered medical home. Many Rhode Island primary care providers are reorganizing into these models of care with the promise of added consumer convenience, better health outcomes and improved practice efficiencies.

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10. Take care of yourself

A healthy person is less expensive to the medical system than a sick one. Seek ways to be healthy through employers, insurance plans, and community organization offerings.

Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs.

 
 

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