Cutting costs without jeopardizing your standard of care

A study of insured and uninsured Americans showed that those without health insurance get sicker as they age until they turn 65 and qualify for Medicare, Friday, Dec. 28, 2007. But they're not likely to become as healthy as someone who had health insurance all along. (AP / CBS)

Knoxville (WVLT) -- The cost of health care is on the rise.

For medical providers, insurers, employers and you.

With overall premiums on the rise, many employers are pushing more of the cost onto you, the worker.

We're covering East Tennessee health with ways to lower your insurance bill without lowering your standard of care.

The average worker pays $694 in annual premiums for individual coverage.

The average family pays $3,281, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And now insurance costs are projected to jump ten percent this year.

Dr. Greg Mancini, a surgeon with UT Medical Center says, "Cost containments have been difficult for the health care industry and a lot of that is being passed on to the individual family and employee."

Blue Cross Blue Shield Director of Account Management Carolyn Graves says there are some things you can do to lower your health insurance bill.

Increase your out-of-pocket costs.

Graves says insurance is supposed to protect against a catastrophe, not pay for regular health maintenance costs, "Are you a young person just out of college, 25, do you need a hundred dollar deductible? No! You probably go to the doctor once in every two or three years."

The more you agree to pay for things out of pocket in the form of deductibles and co-pays, the less you'll pay in premiums.

Shop for private insurance.

Even if you have an employee sponsored plan to choose from.

A healthy, 30-year-old man could pay as little as $37 a month with a private policy.

That's $250 less than the national average employee pays for individual coverage.

Juggle family coverage.

Graves says, "A lot of it depends on the coverages, let's say you have a spouse also working, you need to look -- both of you sit down and look at those coverages and what best suites you?"

And reassess employer options.

Nearly 60 percent of employers offer at least two plan options.

Graves says, "Look at what you have paid out of your pocket in the past year. Now, can I up that deductible? A lot of companies now are offering two different types of plans."

Health care is increasingly moving toward managed network providers.

Check that you aren't unnecessarily paying a higher premium because your plan allows you a choice.

If your doctor is already in network, do you really care about having more choice?

The best time to reassess your needs each year is during open enrollment season in the fall.

A decision to start a family or have surgery may make one plan a more financially attractive option.

Tuesday on Volunteer TV News at 6:00, we're going to put down the paper and pen and crunch the numbers a different way.

And look at how saving money on health insurance may start with your bathroom scale.

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