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Health insurance premiums for most Americans are expected to rise by 14-20% in 2011 and most employers won’t be absorbing any of that. So if you’re on a health care plan subsidized by your employer (such as a group insurance), be ready to see a hefty increase in your premiums.

Most people saw a rise in their insurance rates in 2010, with falling benefits and rising costs being the norm. Already hard hit by the economy, most Americans just tightened their belts or lived with less coverage (or both). According to National Public Radio, we’re in for another hit in the next few months.

Insurance companies are citing rising costs, changes to the law, etc. Whatever the reasons, the NPR report says that beleaguered employers will be passing all of the costs on to employees.

It’s important to not only find ways that we can lower health costs overall, by implementing better technology, better communication, and raised standards of care, but that we individually find ways to lower our own costs as well.

One way to do that is to review insurance coverages every year and be sure that, when enrollment time comes around at your job, you are prepared to choose what’s best for you and your family. Often, raising deductibles or co-payments can significantly impact how much you can save on your monthly premiums. Many people also have coverages they don’t really need.

Remember that low (or no) deductibles, low (or no) co-pays, and similar options will cost you now, more than ever on those premiums. Consider a health savings account to store away tax-deductible money that you can use to reimburse the higher co-payments or deductibles you might have.

Talk to your doctor and financial adviser about other things you can do to lower costs, shorten visits, or otherwise reduce your insurance claims impact. One of the largest costs in a doctor’s office, for instance, is dealing with insurance paperwork and filings. Reducing the number of office visits you make, changing how you pay for care, etc. can mean lower costs in the long run. Many health care providers have cash prices that are much lower than you might think, especially for specialty outpatient care such as massage therapy or chiropractic. Often these cash prices are lower than your deductible and may be a better option.

Do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and create a health care budget that you can afford. Your family’s health, both financial and physical, is important. So take care of it.

  • By Kevin Hauser Submitted on September 16th, 2010

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