|Health Savings Accounts offer tax deductions for medical
expenses, and the opportunity to set up additional retirement
accounts. But regardless of any other positive benefit of HSAs,
lower premiums are the primary reason that thousands of
Americans have chosen Health Savings Accounts as the best way to
protect their family's health and assets. So I'd like to talk
about some key suggestions on how to keep your premiums low.
1. Choose an HSA-qualified plan for lower rate increases.
Average group health insurance premiums rose by 9.6% last year
and rose over 10% for each of the previous six years. Individual
plans went up even more. Yet I expect most HSA plans to
experience much lower rate increases. A very large study was
recently published showing that rate increases over the past
year for consumer driven
health plans such as HSA plans was only 3.4%. Blue Cross of
Minnesota has reported that its HSA customers spent 8% less than
their traditional insurance clients. Humana has reported claims'
costs of 4.9% for consumer-driven plans, versus a 19.2% increase
in claims for other plans. In fact, average HSA premiums for
individuals have actually dropped 19.5% during 2005.
The reason these plans will have lower rate increases is that
people who have HSA-qualifying hig
h deductible health insurance plans are likely to pay closer
attention to costs, and take better care of their health. For
instance, an HSA owner offered a statin drug to lower her
cholesterol may be more likely to request a generic version, or
ask her doctor if inexpensive nutritional supplements such as
niacin or fish oil may be a solution. These actions save the
insurance company money and should result in lower rate
2. Raise your deductible as your Health Savings
When you fund your account you build up a financial "cushion"
which allows you to raise your deductible as your account grows.
Every time you raise your deductible, your premium should go
By the way, don't forget that every time you fund your account
you get an instant tax-deduction. When you offset the tax
savings against your premiums, you'll find your net cost for an
HSA plan can be very low.
The maximum allowable contribution goes up every year with the
rise of the Consumer Price Index. Final numbers are not out yet,
but in 2006 we expect the individual contribution limit to go up
to $2,700, and the family limit to be $5,450. So each year you
can deposit greater amounts into your HSA and continue to raise
your deductible, if you choose.
3. Stay healthy, so you can switch plans.
All health insurance plans have rate increases, and we've even
seen premiums jump on some HSA plans. If a rate increase happens
to you, you can switch to a different insurance company - but
only if you pass their underwriting requirements. If chronic
disease develops, you may be stuck with your current plan, and
its accompanying rate increases, for eternity. Or at least it
may seem that long...
If you pay attention to the pharmaceutical commercials, you
learn lifestyle really has nothing to do with disease, and it is
natural and healthy to be on many medications for the rest of
your life, which will then solve your health problems.
If you pay attention to the science, you know the truth is quite
different. It appears lifestyle is probably 95% of the picture,
and we know the occurrence of degenerative disease can be
dramatically reduced and even prevented.
Fortunately, I've found many of our customers are interested in
wellness, and disease prevention. After all, they're paying for
their own doctor visits if they do get sick. I also believe it
is because HSA owners are "forward thinking" people, and like to
plan for their future - both financial and physical. You can
improve your odds of excellent health with just a few key habits:
Eat very high quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits. Shoot
for 35% of your calories. This will lower your risk for
diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Limit your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates like bread
and pasta. The majority of health problems in the U.S. are
related to metabolic diseases that involve insulin resistance.
Exercise and lift weights. Exercise guru Jack La Lanne just
turned 92 on September 26, and he says if you have muscles you
never feel old.
4. Compare your plan to other available plans at least once a
year, or whenever you get a rate increase.
Often-times people keep their plan much longer than they should,
and end up paying much more than they should. If your rates go
up, you can compare a wide variety of plans at
http://www.HSAforAmerica.com/instant-quote.htm. If you have your
coverage through HSA for America, we automatically do this
analysis of available plans for you any time we are notified of
To your health and wealth,
Wiley Long President - HSA for America
About the author:
ley P. Long III Bio
How To Best Handle Health Insurance Plan Changes
Many economists have suggested and recent economic data indicates that the economy is steadily moving in the right direction. A combination of several factors has no doubt had a negative impact on the economy over the last several years. The recent...
Travel Health Insurance: Know Your Coverage Before An Emergency Occurs
(NC)—Buying travel health insurance is an important step for sufficient medical coverage while outside Canada, but it is only the first step. To make your policy work, say industry regulators, there has to be a co-operative relationship between...
Do I need Health Insurance?
If you think you do not need Health Insurance; then think again.
The unpredictable nature of life is itself a valid reason to own
a health insurance. Life is filled with risks. Wherever there is
an element of risk, risk management is...