Consumer Reports: Surviving high-deductible health plan

Chris Rogers, right, talks to Epilepsy Foundation Navigator Barbara Meneses as Rogers prepares to enroll for health care coverage, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. Thousands of health insurance consumers around the country have started the new year dealing with missing ID cards, billing errors and other problems tied to an enrollment surge at the end of 2015. Brokers and insurers in several states told The Associated Press that they’ve been inundated with complaints about these issues from customers with individual plans and those with coverage through small businesses. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

More and more people are signing up for high-deductible health insurance plans. Some are swayed by the lower monthly premiums. But often people don’t have a choice. A quarter of all employers offering insurance now only have plans with high deductibles.

If you’re forced into a high-deductible plan, how can you afford the care you need? First, use the tool on your insurance company’s website to check prices of treatments and procedures. The differences between providers can be enormous.

Also consider opening a health savings account. That’s an account where you put in pretax dollars, which you can use to pay your deductibles and other qualified healthcare expenses. And that is money that if you don’t spend it all this year, you can use it next year, too.

And be aware that a lot of preventative health services, such as colonoscopies and vaccinations, are free and don’t count toward your deductible.

If you are skipping medical care because you can’t afford the out-of- pocket costs, Consumer Reports recommends talking to your doctor. Doctors can often help you find less expensive prescriptions, diagnostic tests, and other health services.

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