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You can shop around for health insurance quotes just as you would for better car insurance rates. And one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to make that comparison shopping easier. You can compare health plans through your state’s marketplace by going to

Key Takeaways

  • If you are buying an individual health plan, you should shop for health insurance quotes as you might for car insurance rates.
  • Review nine ways to get the most out of your health insurance: stopping smoking, increasing your deductible, choosing in-network providers and more.

Here are ways to get the most for your health insurance dollar.

1. Stop smoking

Health care reform altered the insurance landscape by not allowing insurers to use gender or health conditions for pricing. But they can still charge more to smokers — up to 50 percent more for the same plan.

2. Increase your deductible

Whether you are enrolled in a group or individual plan, the more you pay out of pocket, the less you will have to pay in premiums.

3. Change your co-insurance ratio

Your co-insurance ratio is how much you will pay after you have met your deductible.

A common ratio is 80/20. This means that after you pay your deductible toward health care expenses, your insurer pays 80 percent of the bill and you pay 20 percent. Changing this ratio so you pay more will mean a lower health insurance premium. Just as with raising your deductible, you have to weigh the costs versus risks.

4. Pair a high-deductible health plan with an HSA (Health Savings Account)

Often high-deductible plans are paired with a health savings account. Pre-tax contributions can be rolled into your plan each year. Employers and their employees may contribute to this account. Then you pay health care expenses from your Health Savings Account until it’s exhausted.

Compare your anticipated health expenses with potential savings. The young and healthy could fare well with an HDHP paired with an HSA. This HSA Tax Savings Calculator  helps you estimate your savings.

5. Choose an in-network doctor

Being happy with your choice of doctors starts when you research your plan options. You’ll be looking at costs and benefits, but don’t forget to look at the plan’s provider network. if your favorite doctors aren’t participating in the plan, you could face out-of-network charges.

6. Trade up group health insurance plans

If both you and your spouse have group health insurance plans available through work, calculate which one will cover both your needs at the lowest cost. For some people, group rates might not offer the best value — an individual family plan might offer a cheaper option.

7. Regularly reassess your health insurance needs

You may be missing out on savings simply because you’ve stuck with the same plan year after year while your situation has changed.

You should periodically reassess your insurance needs. Things you should think about include:

  • Do you have children that go to the doctor often?
  • Do you take a lot of prescription drugs?
  • Are tax breaks important to you?
  • Are you willing to assume the cost of routine health in exchange for much lower premiums?”

8. Lobby for health insurance savings at work

If you buy a group health plan through work, you may think you’re stuck with whatever is offered every year.

But employees, especially those in smaller companies, can rally for better coverage options. There may be numerous “optional” benefits tacked on to your group health plan that are causing your group rate to skyrocket. If you and your co-workers agree that some coverage options are unnecessary (for instance, infertility treatment), ask your employer drop them at renewal time.

9. Don’t miss out on subsidies

The Affordable Care Act defines the income levels at which you’re eligible for a premium subsidy. You can only get the subsidies by buying a plan through your state’s health insurance marketplace, and the subsidies come in the form of tax credits. Here’s a chart to determine if you’re eligible.

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Les Masterson


Les, a former managing editor, insurance, at QuinStreet, has more than 20 years of experience in journalism. In his career, he has covered everything from health insurance to presidential politics.