One of the biggest factors people look at when considering a job is the health insurance plan that their potential employer offers.
Employer offered health insurance is a gigantic part of life in the workforce today. But just because your employer offers a health insurance plan, does that mean you're stuck with it?
Except in some very special circumstances, you are not required to join the health insurance plan your employer offers. There are some good reasons not to join, in fact, but you shouldn't be left in the lurch in terms of health care coverage. Below are some alternatives to employer offered health insurance.
Reasons to Reject Employer Offered Health Insurance
One of the biggest reasons to leave an employer-offered health insurance plans has to do with premiums. Most companies subsidize premiums, but not all of them do. If your employer won't help pay your premiums, you may be able to save money by moving to an individual plan.
You may also run into a situation where your employer does offer an insurance plan, but it's not the plan you need. This can be especially important for people with rare or chronic medical conditions who need a customized plan that covers certain procedures or medicines.
The company plan may also become too expensive when you add your family to your plan.
Things to Consider Before Jumping Ship
There are some solid reasons to reject an employer-offered health insurance plan, but there are a few things you do want to think about before jumping ship.
Sometimes, you may be able to get a better deal by moving to private insurance, but keep in mind that you will not be getting any help from your employer. If your employer does cover part of your premiums, it may be worthwhile to stay on the company plan.
You may also miss out on tax breaks and discounts if you have access to an employer-offered health insurance plan but you choose to decline it. In the end, you have to look at the coverage and the end-of-the-line cost for you and decide what is best for you and your family.
Everyone's situation is different, and the issue deserves careful consideration.
Nontraditional Group Health Insurance Coverage
If you decide to reject your employer's health insurance plan, one great alternative is joining a nontraditional group health insurance coverage, or co-op health insurance. This option is great if you work in a small business that may not offer health insurance.
You may also be able to jump into one even if your company does offer insurance plans.
In essence, a health insurance co-op operates like a traditional insurance agency, except that it is owned by the patients it insures. They are not interested in profits, they get huge tax breaks, and they collect only what they spend from their members. This all means they can keep their prices very low, saving you money.
There's truth in the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." While we certainly won't argue that maintaining a healthy lifestyle removes the need for health insurance, it can help. Taking part in a wellness initiative may help you get a better deal on your insurance and save some money, as well as keeping you in better health.
Like co-op health insurance groups, wellness initiatives may be a great option for members of small companies. Your employer could offer incentives for achieving certain health benchmarks.
Not only can this help you put some extra money towards your health, it can also create a great company environment.
Primary Care Membership
Imagine if you could pay a monthly membership fee to have access to routine medical care from a primary care physician, much like a gym membership fee. You would pay a flat fee every month and get nearly-unlimited blood tests, doctor's visits, pediatric care, and other basic medical care. If you have several children, this may sound like a dream come true.
That's essentially what a primary care membership is.
The downside is a plan like this does not cover hospital stays, surgery, or other major procedures. But if you have a young family in relatively good health, this can be a great way to save a lot of money.
In a way, a high-deductible policy is the exact opposite of a primary care membership. Whereas a primary care membership is designed to cover basic medical care, a high-deductible policy is meant to cover catastrophic circumstances and not much else.
If you're a young person in good health, this can be a good plan for you.
A high-deductible policy is more or less what it says on the tin; the deductible on the plan is higher than usual, meaning you have to pay more out of pocket for routine health care. But the flip side is your premiums are lower and you're still covered for major procedures. If you don't need very much routine health care, this can help you save money on health care coverage.
Health Savings Account
If the idea of plans and premiums and deductibles makes you want to scream, you might want to look into a health savings account. (This may also be a good option if your medicare supplement plan F has been cancelled.) Much as the name would suggest, a health savings account is an account you contribute funds to and draw on for medical reasons.
There are tax benefits to opening a health savings account that can help you save money, baseline savings aside.
You'll want to do some careful math and make sure you can contribute enough to cover all your medical expenses. But if you have special medical needs or you want to get out of the insurance system, this is a good option.
Learn More About Insurance Plans
You don't have to be without health insurance coverage if you choose to opt out of your employer offered health insurance. Consider your health situation, review the options, and be smart about your choice. You'll find the best coverage, and you may just save some money.
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