High Deductible Health Insurance Plans Not for Everyone
February 2, 2010
High deductible health insurance plans have lower premiums, much higher deductibles, and are often tied into a Health Savings Account where you can accumulate money pre-tax year after year; as long as you don’t spend it all on health care costs.
Of course if you have very high medical costs and/or don’t put much money into a Health Savings Account then a high deductible health plan may not work in your favor. A recent letter from our doctor’s office is a good example of this, stating that 25% of their patients using high deductible health insurance plans can’t/don’t pay their medical bills.
Over the last five years, many of our patients have changed their health insurance coverage to a high deductible health plan. It may be a Preferred Provider Organization or a Health Savings Account. Many of these plans no longer have a copay with an office visit. They either have a co-insurance of 20% of the cost or 100% of the cost of the office visit goes to the deductible until it is met.
Twenty-five per cent of our patients who have these plans are not able to pay for their services after the insurance processes the claim. Because of this, our medical group has changed the financial policy regarding the care of patients with high deductible health plans.
At the time of service, if you have a high deductible health plan, you will be asked to pre-authorize payment on a credit card for the services you receive that day. It will be a one-time charge to your credit card for those services only. After the claim is processed by the insurance company and you are notified of the amount of payment, you will be given ten days notice to make other arrangements to pay your balance. If we do not hear from you after 10 days, we will charge your credit card for the service. We will destroy credit card information after the payment transaction is complete.
High deductible insurance plans may sound good during Open Enrollment when you’re eyeing the reductions in monthly premiums compared to regular insurance plans but they can be rather unpleasant when you have a several thousand dollar medical bill you have to pay because you haven’t met your high deductible yet.
If you save hundreds a month on insurance premiums with a high deductible insurance plan but end up having to pay interest on hundreds or thousands of dollars of medical costs you charge on credit cards then this type of plan doesn’t really make sense for you.
We’ve never been on a high deductible health plan, partly because my new employer doesn’t offer one and also because our kids delivery & care costs over the last 4 years would have eaten through any savings in premiums we would have realized. Because I’ve never used one I don’t know how much education is offered to people signing up for a high deductible health plan but I hope that people are being informed of and considering the potential financial liabilities that come along with the plan.
All posts by Ben Edwards