Tap These Tools to Figure Your Health Plan Costs


Looking to compare health insurance plans and costs? Read on.

If you're buying insurance  from one of the new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, a calculator created by the nonprofit Kaiser Foundation may help you. It illustrates health insurance premiums and state-based tax credit subsidies that may be available to you if you're  middle-income, under age 65, and not eligible for coverage through your employer, Medicaid or Medicare. (The calculator doesn't work for people in New York, Kentucky, Vermont and Massachusetts, a Kaiser Foundation spokesman says, because those states set premiums using different formulas than other states or have not yet provided premium data to the foundation).

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For the 46 other states and the District of Columbia, you can enter different income levels, ages and family sizes to get an estimate of your eligibility for subsidies and to see how much  health insurance for 2014 may cost you.

Premiums and eligibility requirements vary so contact your state's Medicaid office or exchange with enrollment questions. (Note to Medicare beneficiaries: You should find out next month about your costs for 2014).

A tool on the U.S. government's healthcare.gov website also explains how to enroll (and provides a link that takes you to states with their own exchanges) and provides a comparison of  plans and sample prices available in your area. It doesn't account for possible savings based on your income. Use the Kaiser calculator and the government's tool together to see the plans and prices available to you and to find out whether you'll qualify for lower costs.

For workers comparing  plans offered by their employers, use this work sheet at Healthpartners.com for an estimate of out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs based on your input involving your family's needs. Also, consult the websites of the insurance carriers your employers use for comparison information.

Get discounts on financial products and services with your AARP Member Advantages.

We all want to save money on our health costs and a growing number of employers are helping us out. They're offering incentives, often in the form of annual premium discounts, if you lose weight, quit smoking or adopt other healthy living measures that are likely to bring down health care costs for you and your employer. Ask your company about any incentives that are offered to help you and your bottom line.

Photo: 401k 2013/Flickr

ACA = Affordable Care Act = Obamacare






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