Health insurance has been commonplace in Oregon since the end of World War II. For many years cheap health insurance premiums made it easily affordable for most businesses to offer their employees free or nearly free health coverage.
Times have changed. Recent technological advances in medicine have driven prices sky high and many employers here in Oregon can no longer afford to provide their workers with free health care; many have had to drop their worker health care entirely, scale it back, or require a substantial employee contribution to continue their health care coverage.
This has resulted in more individuals and families than ever scrambling to find the best rates on health insurance here in Oregon.
If you’re in this boat, or know someone who is, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not totally helpless in the face of the giant insurance companies – there are things you can do to lower your health care costs while still protecting you family.
Start by shopping for the best rates you can find on the internet. Many websites make it easy for you to enter the coverage you and your family need onto a simple form and then get side-by-side comparisons of rates from several health providers at the click of a button.
But before you do that take a moment and seriously consider what types and amount of coverage your family actually uses in a normal year. What areas of health coverage are most important to you? What areas are you likely to need the most financial help with in the coming year?
There is also another difficult question you need to ask yourself. What is the most money you can set aside to pay for your own health needs for the coming year? If you can honestly say that you can set aside $1,000 or $500 or even $250 for the year then see if it makes sense to increase the deductible on your health insurance.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to drive down the cost of health insurance is to increase your deductible – in other words, to increase the amount that you will pay out of your own pocket before your insurance company begins paying for your health care requirements.
Some policies give you the option of various co-payment rates for a variety of services. By increasing your co-pay (the amount you pay each time you receive that service) on services that you and your family do not normally use a great deal you can also help bring down the cost of your insurance.
Obviously if you smoke, stop smoking since non-smokers pay substantially less for health insurance. If you are overweight making an effort to lose weight and get into good physical shape can also lower your monthly health care costs.
And, believe it or not, keeping your credit rating in good shape can also affect the amount you pay for health insurance with some companies.
The point is, you’re not helpless. There are steps you can take to control the costs that you and your family pay for the health insurance that you need – the key is to take an active role in comparing policies from a number of companies until you find the policy and the company that’s right for you and your budget.