The biggest healthcare benefit decision you need to make this year

This benefits the open enrollment period, your employer may ask you – and even force you – to subscribe to a high-health plan with a health savings account. Almost three-quarters of companies expect to offer this project as an option for 2015, from 63% in 2014. And 23% say it will be the only choice that Towers Watson has found.

While premium health premiums are typically 10% less than those of more traditional PPO plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, co-insurance does not penetrate until you pay much more than your pocket.

On average, you will pay the first $ 2,200 in cost as a person, or $ 4,500 as a family. (Employers prefer plans because they encourage you to be more discreet about your spending.) To pay bills, you can save money before entering – up to $ 6,650 for a family – into a health-saving account ( HSA). Most companies are throwing cash to sweeten the pot.

According to the usual wisdom, high discount plans save money for young and healthy, who rarely see doctors. But with discounts and premiums growing on all plans and more companies offering only this coverage, everyone should know how to use better discount plans. "Whether we like it or not, the highest levels of spending are the way of the future," says Professor of the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren. Here's how to evaluate your choices if you have choices and how to offset the risk if you do not:

If you have a drawing option

Compare the cost for a typical year. Your employer, hopefully, will make it easy for you: In autumn this, 76% of companies are planning to offer tools to help employees evaluate project choices, says Towers Watson. These are often based on the current use of your health services.

Is not that fortunate? Estimating your total cost in each project is not easy, but it is necessary to make the right choice. Start by reviewing your explanations of 2014 benefits – possibly available on your insurer's website – to see the prices traded by the insurer for your usual services, says Paul Fronstin of the Employee Research Institute. Add premiums to the expected out-of-pocket expenses in each project up to and including the deductible quantities and remove any HSA employer contribution for high deductibility.

Evaluate a worse scenario. In more than 58% of projects with a high discount rate, families could deposit accounts that exceed their annual contributions to HSA, according to Kaiser data. In such cases, if you suffer from a health crisis, "you risk using a lot of dollars after tax," says Katy Votava, founder of Healthcare Healthcare Company. "I like to see an out-of-pocket max that is not much more than the HSA limit."

You measure your tolerance at the cost. A study by the American Medical Association found that 43% of higher-income families in high-discount schemes had been delayed or lost due to costs. Nearly one third of women reported more stress and 15% suffered disability as a result of cessation of care. If you are likely to skip treatment to save a buck, this plan is not your best option, especially if you have a chronic condition.

If you go high-deductible

Budget for your costs. Let aside at least HSA – including employer contributions – to cover your expected care, and ideally more, says Kullgren. In this way, "when you need care, you are not faced with the decision to take the service or go without". Instead of worrying about saving too much, consider this as a backup account for retirement: The remaining funds carry the year year that is increased without taxes and can be withdrawn without penalty for any purpose as soon as you are 65 years old. (You will charge income taxes if funds are used for anything other than health costs).

Become a consumer. Highly deductible designs put the weight on you to be a conscious price. Learn the costs of procedures in advance and ask questions like "How will this test result affect what you do for me?" says economics developer Jacksonville and MD Carolyn McClanahan. Prices vary wildly, so compare shops for services like blood tests and MRI. It is in your best interest to have the best possible deal.
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