This month, a lot of salaried workers are in the process of choosing health insurance coverage for 2023 through their employers. But what if you’re not entitled to health insurance through a job?
Maybe you became self-employed recently, which means you don’t get access to company benefits. Or maybe you’re retired but don’t yet qualify for Medicare.
Going without health insurance can be a dangerous thing. If you don’t have health insurance, you could have to raid your savings to cover unexpected hospital bills. So it’s essential to put coverage in place. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you can buy health insurance through the federal marketplace at HealthCare.gov from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15.
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If this is the first time you’re buying your health insurance, you may find the process somewhat overwhelming. Here are a few tips for narrowing down your choices.
- Know your plan tiers
Marketplace health insurance plans are classified into different categories or tiers. The highest tier is Platinum, which means you’ll generally look at more comprehensive coverage and lower out-of-pocket costs for copays and deductibles. But you’ll also generally be looking at higher premium costs. If you want to avoid springing for a Platinum plan, you can go down one tier to Gold, two to Silver, and three to Bronze.
- Consider an HSA-compatible plan
Health insurance plans with higher deductibles may be compatible with a health savings account (HSA). And those plans are worth looking at.
HSAs let you contribute pre-tax dollars for healthcare spending purposes. They’re super flexible in that they don’t expire, so you can take withdrawals at any point in time and invest funds you don’t need to spend right away. HSA withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified healthcare expenses — copays and deductibles.
Health insurance plans with an individual deductible of $1,500 or more, or a family-level deductible of $3,000 or more, are HSA-eligible in 2023, provided their maximum out-of-pocket caps don’t exceed $7,500 for individuals or $15,000 for families. When you look at your plan choices, you’ll immediately see whether a given plan is HSA-eligible.
Of course, you may not love the idea of higher health insurance deductibles. But generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your premiums, so what you pay in one regard, you’ll save in another. And remember, an HSA can lower your tax burden, so there are savings to consider when making your decision.
- Review your out-of-network coverage choices
It’s only sometimes possible to find a doctor or specialist you like within your health insurance plan’s network. That’s why it’s essential to see what costs you’re looking at if you’re forced to go out of network. You’ll generally be on the hook for higher copays, and some health insurance plans won’t offer any coverage if you see a provider who’s out of network.
Buying health insurance is an important thing. Follow these tips to make the right decision — and ensure you have the coverage you need.
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