Stressed about Individual Health Insurance or Family Healthcare?
If this sounds like you
- I'm between jobs and need insurance, but I just can't afford the high price of COBRA.
- My rates increased again
- Our family recently moved to Oregon from another state. Plus, I'm self-employed for the first time–I've always had company insurance and don't know what to do.
- We need alternative care.
- There's a tax break for insurance? Really?
- We're going on an extended trip outside the United States.
- I thought I knew enough to purchase insurance on my own, but spent way more than I should have. I'm not going to make that mistake again.
Relax. We can find the best health insurance options for you.
Montgomery & Graham can evaluate your needs, explain your options and help you understand your plan before purchasing. We are specialists in Traditional Individual and Family Plan coverage and also deal with Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) – High Deductible Health plans which offer a tax advantage. We offer:
- Health individual, family, and self-employed
- Life permanent, term, or Return of Premium
- Dental and Supplemental accident, cancer, e-care, etc.
- Long Term Care Insurance "The biggest threat to one's nest egg isn't a bear market, but an extended stay in a long term care facility" SmartMoney.com September 2008.
Better yet, we're with you for the life of your insurance policy.
Our Client Care center is always just a phone call away, where there's a real person to answer the phone and take care of your needs, whether you have a question on a bill, are looking for a doctor on your plan, or need replacement ID cards.
If you want to compare plan options when rates increase (once a year, as they always do) your personal agent will be there to help. As a brokerage, we can review all available plan options. We’ll shop the market, so you don’t have to. We’ll educate you on your options, explain benefits and help you find a plan that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
Be a Wise Health Care Consumer
25 Ways to Reduce Your Health Care Costs
The way we purchase health care is unlike most other purchases we make. Many Americans will search through a newspaper for a coupon that saves them 50 cents at the local supermarket. However, when it comes to health care—a far more complex and expensive service—we rarely ask questions or consider all the options that could save us time and money.
Learn to shop for value when it comes to health care. With little effort you can save thousands of dollars on your medical bills.
1. Let’s make a deal. Ask your doctor, hospital or dentist if they will accept less. Studies show that the majority of individuals who bargain succeed.
2. Know how much it costs. You will be better armed to negotiate discounts when you know the real costs of care. You can find rates on the websites of large insurers like UHC, Cigna and Aetna.
3. Pay in cash. You can routinely save up to 10 percent on your bill by paying in cash up front, and often much more than that. Doctors lose thousands of dollars every year on credit card processing fees, unpaid bills and collection fees.
4. Look at your bill closely. You will often find mistakes. Keep track of your visits, tests and medications, and compare them against your bills. Request a corrected bill if you find an error and notify your insurance company.
5. Follow instructions. Follow your health care provider’s instructions for medications. Most medications work most effectively when they are used according to doctor’s instructions. Ignoring instructions could result in additional prescription costs, extra trips to the doctor or even hospitalization.
6. Visit a retail health clinic. Retail health clinics are growing in number. They are popping up in high-traffic retail outlets in metropolitan areas around the country. While these clinics lack the personal nature of seeing a family physician who
knows your complete medical history, their appeal is the convenience and low prices.
7. Stay in-network. Your medical costs can increase greatly when you visit a provider not in your plan’s network. Make sure your primary care doctor and any specialists you may need to see are in your network whenever possible.
8. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you must see a specialist who isn’t within your network, call your insurance company’s pre-certification department and explain why you must use an out-of-network specialist. You can often get your insurance company to agree to pay in-network rates in order to avoid the expensive appeal process. If that doesn’t work, ask your specialist to accept the in-network rate.
9. Understand what treatment your plan covers. Are you paying for chiropractic care, massage therapy or acupuncture? Check your insurance company’s website or call their customer service line to make sure you aren’t needlessly paying for health care that is covered by your insurance.
10. Stay insured. Generally it is cheaper to stay on your employer’s plan rather than going on your own if you are considering leaving your job in the next year, make the change to the lowest-cost plan during your open enrollment period. After you quit, COBRA allows you to stay on your employer’s health plan for up to 18 months. If you elect COBRA coverage, you pay 100 percent of the premiums, including the share the employer used to pay, plus a small administrative fee.
11. Fight back. If your claim has been denied, start with a phone call to customer service. If that doesn’t work, follow your plan’s appeal process. Remember to document everything and keep copies.
12. Choose your health plan wisely. Choosing the plan with the lowest premiums or sticking with the same plan year to year may not be the smartest option. Anticipate your family’s medical expenses and look closely at each plan option to find the most appropriate and cost-effective one for you.
13. Consider an HSA. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are growing in popularity. They are combined with a high-deductible health plan. The high-deductible policy protects you from the cost of a catastrophic illness or prolonged hospitalization. You control the savings account and use it for small and routine health care expenses. Although you own and manage the account, employers will often make contributions to HSAs as well. Funds you don’t use grow tax-free and can be rolled over from year to year. For 2014, you can contribute up to $3,300 for an individual account and up to $6,550 if you’re insured under a family plan. However, if you’re 55 or older, your contribution levels rise by an additional $1,000.
14. Take advantage of flexible spending accounts. A flexible spending account, or FSA, is an employee benefit program that allows you to set aside money on a pretax basis for certain health care and dependent care expenses. That means you keep more of your money.Your employer may also contribute to your FSA account. The maximum total FSA contribution for 2013 is $2,500.
15. Don’t skimp on preventive care. Be sure your child gets routine checkups and vaccines as needed, both of which can prevent medical problems (and bills) down the road. Also, adults should get the preventive screenings recommended for their age to detect health conditions early.
16. Look for free services. Look for free health screenings and vaccinations in your area. With a little research, you could find free or reduced-price flu shots, Pap smears, prostate exams, cholesterol screenings and more.
17. Visit a dental school. Look into local dental schools where you will be treated by dental students, who perform the dental treatment while closely supervised by their instructors. Expect to pay about 20 to 60 percent of what you'd pay for the same treatment by a private dentist. Check this list from the American Dental Association to see if there’s one near you.
18. Don’t forget to floss. Studies have demonstrated that those who floss regularly have a decrease in periodontal disease, bad breath and cavity incidence. The cost of periodontal disease treatment can range in the thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the conditions.
19. Discount contacts. Discount websites and stores can provide the contact lenses prescribed by your eye doctor, in factory-sealed packaging, at savings of up to 70 percent off what you would pay at the retail level.
20. Chill out. According to WebMD, up to 90 percent of doctor visits are for stress-related conditions. Studies show that relaxation techniques are effective in controlling anxiety, enhancing the immune system and reducing conditions such as high blood pressure, substance abuse and chronic pain.
21. Quit smoking. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are allowed to charge smokers 50 percent higher premiums than nonsmokers for new polices sold to individuals and smaller employer groups. Plus, if you quit smoking you can expect to save approximately $2,000 a year on the cost of cigarettes alone.
22. Live a healthy lifestyle. Focus on eating nutritiously, cutting down on fast food and getting more physical exercise. Striving toward a healthier lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight can drastically reduce future medical conditions and diseases.
23. Wash your hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand hygiene is the most important factor in preventing the spread of germs. In fact, health experts estimate that 80 percent of common infections are spread through hand contact. Save hundreds of dollars a year on cold and flu treatments.
24. Get a second opinion. Save thousands of dollars a year on cutting-edge medical tests, which usually are not covered by insurance, by following the guidelines recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. You can find these guidelines at www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm.
25. Think twice about the emergency room. Don’t ever go to the emergency room (ER) when your regular doctor or an urgent care visit would suffice. If you or your child is feeling ill on Friday, get into the doctor that day to avoid overpaying at the ER during the weekend.