Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2017
Written by 

Solving the health insurance cost puzzle

Buying health insurance has become very expensive. For many years, most of us received health insurance through our employer’s group plan. We paid little or nothing toward the premium and out-of-pocket costs. We never got a bill, because the group health insurance plan paid it.

To show you a perspective on how costs have increased, in 1963 a family plan cost the employer about $2.50/month or $30/year. In 2017 or 54 years later, that same plan will cost about $2,500/month or $30,000/year.

Today, these higher costs are being shifted to the individual and family in the form of premium contribution and deductibles. This cost shift is the new reality for people who receive their insurance through an employer or buy insurance on their own.

Five tips for buying health insurance:

  1. Know your monthly premium and annual maximum out-of-pocket limit. If you have a large health care bill, this is your total financial risk each year.
  2. Know your existing health care costs. What are the names, dosages, quantities and costs of your prescription medicines? What are your anticipated office visits, labs, tests and other product costs for the year?
  3. Know how these health care costs are covered by your plan. Compare the coverage of these costs to your annual premium cost. Does it make sense to pay more in premium to have lower out-of-pocket expenses, or does it make sense to save the lower premium for when you need it?
  4. Know your health insurance plan options. Many people today have health insurance options to choose from such as HSA qualified plans with health savings accounts, HMOs and PPOs that determine the doctors and hospitals you can access.
  5. Ask questions. Every year plans can change. You want to access a health insurance advisor to make informed decisions about your insurance cost and coverage.

After you purchase your health insurance plan, your other purchase decision is health care. Here you want to assemble your team of health professionals who can help you assess your health risks, and work with you to improve your health to avoid paying high out-of-pocket costs each year. 

John Ulness

John Ulness is co-owner of Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness in Appleton. He helps people in Wisconsin understand their health insurance options to control costs and enroll. He can be reached at 1-800-386-0876 or [email protected]

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