Savings Tip – Evaluate Your Health Insurance Periodically

For this article, we’re going to assume you are lucky enough to have employer provided insurance (that you pay partially). Typically the way this works is when you start at a job you’re given a big packet of options, which you make a semi-informed decision about, and then leave out there while you go about your life. Now is a good time to evaluate your coverage and see if you can save money.

The first think you should check is what the proportion you pay is. Some employers cover everything, in which case you are good here! However, it’s more typical to be given the choice of various PPO or HMO options that affect the amount you pay out of paycheck. I think people often pick health insurance like they pick wine (something middle of the road, not too expensive, not too cheap), however health insurance really depends on your situation.

If you rarely visit the doctor, you may be better off with a high deductible HMO. This is typically the cheapest type of health care. If you have frequent doctor visits, and care about which doctor you go to, you’ll probably want a lower deductible PPO. In most cases, any option you choose will cover serious emergencies.

If you’re married, you and your spouse should compare the price of joining on the same plan vs having individual plans. There is no guarantee that one is cheaper then the other. I’ve seen it be cheaper for people to stay on their own employers plans.

Evaluate extra insurance, I’ve found Dental insurance is rarely worth it. Ask your dentist what they charge for a visit if you pay in cash, get pricing on some typical procedures (cavity, X-Rays, etc…) and compare the frequency of those things to what you are paying for dental insurance. For example, my old employer charged $25 per month for dental insurance, however a cleaning and X-rays were only $75. Assuming I go twice a year, I would pay $150 without insurance, but $300 with insurance. In the rare case of cavities, I might break even. That said, if I needed a root canal or something I probably would have been better off with insurance. I’ve found with dental problems though you’ll probably know when you are going to have more serious problems and can jump on insurance when open enrollment comes along.

Vision insurance is another thing worth evaluating. Do the same calculations you would do for Dental insurance. Typical eye doctors will sell you very expensive glasses ($400+), but you can get stylish glasses WITH prescription for as little as $100 through Warby Parker. So if you get glasses once every 2 years, assuming an eye doctor visit is under $100, the price you’ll need to beat with insurance is less then $8.50 per month!

As with everything, always read up on the specifics of what you are covered, and really understand what you need for your situation before making these decisions.