The Obamacare open enrollment window is fast approaching.
Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily good news for budget-conscious healthcare consumers looking to change health plans or acquire coverage for the first time. Depending on your state of residence, health status, income, and other factors, premiums for Obamacare “metal” level plans in your area could be higher than ever this year.
These five Obamacare alternatives and supplements may offer lower-cost coverage than “metal” plans. Consult with a health insurance expert to determine the best fit or combination for your needs.
- Short Term Health Insurance Plans
Short term health insurance plans are ideal for patients seeking temporary coverage — generally, 90 days or less, ideal for short periods of unemployment or the gap between your official retirement date and your Medicare eligibility date. According to health entrepreneur Steve Dorfman, savvy healthcare consumers can achieve continuous coverage for up to six months by taking out back-to-back short term health insurance plans.
- Health Savings Accounts
A health savings account, or HSA, is a tax-advantaged account that complements a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDIP). Accountholders generally contribute before-tax wages to their HSAs, increasing their spending power relative to traditional savings accounts. With some restrictions, funds held in HSAs can be used for healthcare expenses not covered by insurance, reducing total out of pocket expenses.
- Flexible Spending Accounts
A flexible spending account, or FSA, is another type of tax-advantaged account that can reduce net out of pocket healthcare costs. Though the concept is similar, FSAs have one important limitation to keep in mind: according to Bankrate tax expert Kay Bell, account holders must spend their accounts’ funds by the end of each tax year, or March 15 of the following year if their employer allows an optional grace period.
- Hospital Indemnity Plans
Also known as hospitalization insurance, hospital indemnity plans pay a fixed amount toward the cost of a hospital stay (confinement). Some pay for other qualified medical expenses, such as ambulance transport, emergency room treatment, inpatient or outpatient surgery, and anesthesia. You don’t have to worry about staying in-network, and coverage is generally available for your entire family. Plans are often renewable until age 65.
- Supplemental Insurance & Discount Products
These aren’t the only health insurance plans that can reduce your net annual healthcare expenses without compromising your quality of care or impacting your personal budget. Other useful products include:
- Supplemental insurance (also known as medical gap or “medigap” coverage), which makes fixed payments to your healthcare providers as needed
- Dental insurance, which may reduce your out of pocket dental care costs
- Prescription discount plans or cards, which reduce the out of pocket cost of common prescription medications
- Telemedicine plans, which reduce or eliminate out of pocket costs for routine consultations performed remotely by primary care providers
Affordable Health Coverage Is Closer Than You Think
Let’s face it: finding the right health insurance plan is no easy task. It’s doubly difficult when you’re watching every cent in your bank account. How can you be sure you’re getting the coverage that best fits your needs at a price that won’t bust your budget?
Fortunately, affordable health coverage is out there — if you know where to look. With one or more of these five options in your corner, you can rest easy in the knowledge that an unexpected illness or injury won’t lead to financial hardship, and that the cost of maintaining coverage won’t crimp your style.