Paying the Price for Life: Selecting the Right Health Insurance Coverage

Paying the Price for Life: Selecting the Right Health Insurance Coverage
The one thing that causes me even more stress than our income taxes is figuring out health insurance. When I quit my full-time job to focus on my freelance career, I went from having a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan with a flexible spending account (FSA) to my husband’s high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA). Just when I thought I had next year’s coverage figured out, my husband became eligible to enroll in an open-access plan (OAP) with an FSA. As if calculating medical expenses isn’t difficult enough, now my brain is like a bowl of alphabet soup. For the purpose of this column, I’ll only address our two options: the HDHP and the OAP. Wading through the benefits guide my husband brought home, I have to sort out premiums, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums to determine the best solution to meet my complex medical needs.

Tallying the costs

The premium is the monthly cost for insurance coverage. The tradeoff of the high deductible of an HDHP is a much lower premium. The rate for both my husband and me would be $139 a month for the HDHP compared to almost $271 a month for the OAP. At first glance, the HDHP looks like the better deal. But that is if both of us were healthy and only saw a doctor for preventive care. For someone living with a chronic disease, the deductible, copays, and maximum limits come
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