Break a Leg! — Or Not!

A year ago today, I fell off a three foot platform while speaking to a packed audience. Yep. There was an optical illusion on the stairs and afterwards, the usual speaker for that facility said, “Wow, I’ve been worried about doing that myself for years, it’s so hard to see those stairs!” Well, ya think ya coulda’ warned ME about it? I didn’t break any bones, but the trauma triggered a “frozen shoulder” and all kinds of nonsense MRIs, x-rays, surgeon consults, etc. It’s taken a year to recover. PLUUZE…no “how couldyou fall for that?” jokes, OK? I’m just glad I had insurance!
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, if you or your child broke a leg, you would incur costs in excess of $15,000. It’s no wonder that in my experience with mainstream American families, I’ve found that the greatest financial concern they have is how find affordable health insurance.

Be Healthy
The best protection against rising medical costs is still prevention. First Place ( are fabulous health programs for men and women of all ages. Using a support system that incorporates balanced eating and exercise plans, these groups provide the accountability and opportunity to change your life. A healthy lifestyle can also have other advantages. Many health insurance companies offer a refund on an annual premium if the insured can prove that they have attended a health and fitness center three times a week, or by being a member of Weight Watchers.

Be Wealthy
There’s no need to pay more than necessary for health insurance. Compare plans and prices by going to a non-intrusive site such as , or . It’s possible to get a relatively anonymous quote instantly without the intrusion of a salesperson calling your home or office. It’s also a good place to compare plans by remembering that you shouldn’t buy what you don’t need. For example, if you do not need maternity benefits, eliminate them from the plan you choose.
If you can consider a higher deductible, then the money saved on premiums could go into a Health Savings Account (HSA), which is basically a health insurance policy you can bank on. When an HSA-eligible policy is purchased in conjunction with an HSA account, then the Health Savings Account is funded with pre-tax dollars, and taxable income is reduced at the same time. The money in this account is used, tax-free, to fund healthcare related costs including prescriptions, insurance deductibles and over the counter medications. The money that is not used in this account is rolled over from year to year and can serve as a retirement plan.
You do not have to insure all family members on the same policy. If there’s an employee benefit in a group plan, it doesn’t mean all family members have to be covered on the same plan. An average family can save as much as $2500 a year by pulling family members out of pricey group plans and purchasing individual health insurance. The exception to this would be if the family member has a pre-existing condition (such as asthma, a heart condition, high cholesterol, etc) that might be temporarily or permanently excluded in an individual plan. In that case, it would be better to pay the higher premium in order to keep the comprehensive coverage consistent.

Be Wise
Know the difference between health insurance and discount health or medical “cards.” According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, many companies are selling so-called discount health cards to consumers seeking affordable healthcare. Usually for a monthly fee, the cards claim to save subscribers money by offering discounts on physician visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, dental work, eye care and other treatment. The CAIF says that, “Discount health cards are spreading rapidly. Many may offer valuable, money-saving benefits for people without health insurance. But these cards can also be confusing, because they are not insurance. You still must pay the medical bills yourself. These cards simply offer lower prices on services that accept these discounts.” If you have a question about a policy or a card before you buy, go to to make sure you’re being wise in your choices.
Finally, for the 45.8 million uninsured Americans, who may feel they cannot afford health insurance, go to the non-profit arm of a previous site found at to see what services and benefits are available for your particular situation and in your state and community.

Here’s to a Healthy Fall!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)


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