December 9, 2014
The holiday season is officially in full swing. And while that brings joy, family time, and cheer, it also brings the stress and confusion of insurance plan's open enrollment. When your employer hands you a packet full of numbers and percentages, it's easy to tune out and make a choice without fully understanding your selection. Taking the time to understand your insurance plan inside and out will save you time, energy, and money all throughout the year. One of the most confusing transitions we've seen patients go through is from a traditional copay plan to a high deductible health plan (HDHP), which are becoming more and more popular. While the premiums for HDHPs are lower, patients have a much higher out of pocket responsibility for medical services they receive. The departure from a consistent copay rate gives budgeting for health care more uncertainty. A huge help in managing a HDHP is the Health Savings Account (HSA). These accounts are offered to people who sign up for a HDHP to help cover the large out of pocket patient responsibilities. HSA funds are typically taken pre-tax through your employer. While taking full advantage of the lower premium is tempting, the smartest choice is to contribute to an HSA each pay period so funds are available when needed. Best of all, HSA accounts aren't "use it or lose it", like flex spending accounts. If you set aside money for health care you don't end up using, it carries over to the next year. While the procedures at The Vein Institute are typically covered by insurance, a HDHP can make it costly without proper planning. Whether for vein treatment or other health needs, you should always think about what services you and your family may need in the coming year when deciding on your HSA contribution. There are two strategies you can consider when planning expenses. On one hand, you can plan procedures and visits beyond preventative care in the beginning of the year. Since procedures come at a higher cost, they may fulfil your deductible requirement early in the year. This means you can plan for other non-urgent services and expect to pay a much lower out of pocket rate, or sometimes nothing at all! On the other hand, you may opt to spend your deductible slowly throughout the year, but plan for procedures at the end of the year before the insurance plan's terms restart in January. During this busy month, take time to get to know your insurance plan's details. It will start you and your family off on the right foot for a happy, healthy, new year.