Russ Harrington/courtesy of Thomas Nelson Inc.
Dave Ramsey: Protect Your Health Care!
How to right insurance wrongs
With medical debt being one of the top reasons for bankruptcy in America, health insurance is an essential part of a good, healthy financial plan.
Its amazing what health care can cost it feels like you just walk past a hospital and it charges you money. You need health insurance, and when you cant get it for one reason or another it really leaves you big-time exposed to cracking or scrambling your nest egg.
According to USA Today, 24 per-cent of people who continue to work after retirement age are doing so because they need health insurance. Yuck! I dont know about you, but when I retire I want to do fun stuff, not work a J.O.B. The toughest part? Working no longer guarantees health benefits. Experts say the cost to employers for providing health insurance has gone up so much that employers paying 100 percent of the cost will be gone in the next 10 years.
Go IndependentIf youre trying to get insurance on your own because your employer doesnt offer it or because it costs too much through your company or you have retired or lost your job I recommend using an independent agent who works with all health-insurance companies. That way, he or she can find the best policy that fits your needs.
The key? The agent you work with must have the heart of a teacher. If you dont understand why he or she is recommending something, or youre not sure if it will work for you, ask for it to be explained again. Always know exactly what youre buying.
Save UpOne great thing that has become available in the last few years is the Health Savings Account (HSA). Instead of paying for high insurance premiums, you can save up to the amount of your deductible but no more than $2,850 for an individual or $5,650 for a family tax-free in an HSA to use toward future health-care expenses.
To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan, which is an inexpensive insurance-premium plan that generally doesnt pay for the first few thousand dollars of your medical expenses but provides coverage after that amount. Your HSA then kicks in with tax-free dollars to help pay for what your plan doesnt. For more information, check out ustreas.gov/offices/public-affairs/hsa.
There is no magic pill for paying medical bills. The good news is that health providers are some of the most flexible for discounting, espe-cially when you pay cash. They are also the best at working out terms for payment. So if youre already in a mess with medical bills, go to the hospitals or doctors business office hat in hand. Show the manager your budget. Most health organizations will work out a way for you to pay the debt over time. Have good health insurance, disability insurance and a fully funded emergency savings of three to six months of expenses then youll be able to handle medical costs that come along.
Dave Ramseys financial advice appears every week in Quick & Simple. He is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Dave Ramsey Show and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited