How to Negotiate Your Health Care Costs

Increased participation in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) puts increased pressure on the consumer’s wallet and in turn, more patient responsibility to understand what they are paying for their health care services. The problem – health care pricing has always been a mystery. It only makes sense that educated consumers should be able to compare prices for health care services, as you would any other product or service before buying. Unfortunately price transparency in health care is rare, and many doctors are unable to keep up with what their recommendations will cost the patient. There is a movement happening however, that aims to uncover the mystery of health care pricing and empower patients to make informed health care decisions. It is no secret that price disparities in health care services exist and prices may vary depending on where you receive treatment. However, you may be shocked to find out just how large these discrepancies can be. According to a recent WSJ article, “a hospital in Pennington, N.J., charged $3,036 for a diagnostic and screening ultrasound, Read on! →

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) – February 2014 Newsletter

Enrollment period for 2014 has come and gone. If you are like many workers in the U.S. you probably noticed changes in your health care benefit offerings. For the first time in a long time, many workers are weighing their options for health care coverage as high deductible health plans with health savings accounts are becoming more the “norm” for health care benefits. As health care continues to evolve and take shape, employers and employees are adapting to keep pace. In an effort to reduce costs in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and increase employees’ engagement in their own health care decision making, employers across the country are beginning to shift their focus from the traditional health care plans (HMO/PPO) to high deductible health plans (HDHP) coupled with health savings accounts (HSA). According to a 2013 survey[1] on the ACA’s impact on employer sponsored health care, one in four organizations (24.5%) is increasing their emphasis on an HDHP with an HSA, while an additional 14.3% are assessing the feasibility of adding one. If you have not yet been Read on! →

Don’t Miss Open Enrollment

You can feel it in the air, fall is officially upon us. In addition to football, pumpkin patches and sweater weather, fall is also time for open enrollment. Open enrollment (also known as annual enrollment) is a period of time when individuals may make additions, changes or deletions to their elected employee benefits, individual health insurance, or Medicare coverage. Whether you are working and need to update your benefits package at work, are retired and eligible for Medicare benefits, or are under age 65 and not covered by a group health insurance policy, you should consider your options before the designated open enrollment period begins. Employee Benefits Typically, open enrollment for employee benefits begins in the fall of each year, but the timing will vary slightly from company to company. The specific time period and details for your employer’s plan(s) will be communicated by your HR department, so remember to open and read all communications you receive regarding your group plans. Some companies have made changes to the eligibility requirements for spousal benefits starting in 2014. Be sure to review the Read on! →

The Affordable Care Act – Considerations for the Consumer

It seems that you can’t turn on the news or walk down the street without hearing something about The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Eric’s blog from July 16th addressed The Affordable Care Act from the standpoint of small business owners. This week, I will break down some of the key issues that you, as a consumer, should know and understand as some of these changes begin to be implemented later this fall. 1.  Where will individuals and families obtain their health insurance coverage? You can still obtain coverage through your employer, individually, or through government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. If you are not already covered under a health insurance plan, you can purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the health insurance “exchange,” beginning October 1, 2013. The Health Insurance Marketplace (or Exchange) is administered by either your state or the federal government and provides one location to compare plans and enroll easily. Visit healthcare.gov to learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace and see the details for your state. 2.  Is Read on! →

The Affordable Care Act Considerations for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner I have observed the machinations of the Affordable Care Act from a safe distance.  From its inception, it has served as a divisive focal point for our elected representatives.  As with most comprehensive government policy initiatives, the respective sides have spun the details in a way that works to their advantage.  The Affordable Care Act has not been exempt from this posturing and continues to have its share of supporters and detractors. Over the years I have found that most new initiatives never fully meet the needs of everyone but if looked at more closely, often have appealing features for certain groups or individuals.  While not completely sold on every aspect of the Affordable Care Act, I have decided to assess the various components.  I plan to use this forum to highlight a few basics and expand further in future writings.  In time, my goal will be to make an informed decision on whether the Affordable Care Act is right for my business, my three associates, and for me and my family. The Basics Beginning Read on! →