insurance

Buying guide to private medical insurance

How to buy private medical insurance

If you don't qualify for Medicare and your employer doesn't offer health care coverage, you may need to buy private medical insurance. Unfortunately, doing so can be expensive. Here are some ways to save on medical insurance.

Comparison shop

If you're buying private medical insurance, the primary cost driver will be your health. Older Americans and those in poor health typically pay the most. Even if you're relatively healthy, the challenge will be finding a plan that fits your budget and offers a decent amount of coverage.

Because you'll likely need to give up on some extras like maternity, mental health, and vision, it's critical to look at as many medical insurance plans as possible.

Reduce costs

Saving money when you buy private medical insurance isn't easy, but it is possible to trim your premium to some degree. The two easiest ways to save money are to go with a higher deductible and to pare back coverage. Unfortunately, both options leave you exposed if you get injured or become sick.

What may seem less obvious is to focus on your health. Smokers and those with weight problems can expect to pay more, so there's a real incentive to stay healthy. And if you have just basic health care needs (checkups and the occasional flu), you may want to bypass your high insurance copay and opt for drugstore clinics that offer more reasonable fees for minor issues.

Consider an HSA

If buying private medical insurance has forced you to dramatically scale back your coverage, you may want to consider a health savings account, or HSA, which allows you to build up money tax-free.

The money can be used to cover doctor's visits, prescriptions or medical procedures. As you build up the money in your HSA, you can be more secure in moving to a high-deductible plan.

 

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