Help a Reader Choose Her Health Care Plan

by Anonymous

I’m looking for opinions on which of my company’s health care plans to choose, and I thought Billfold readers would be the perfect people to ask. I have three different medical plans to choose from. Vision and dental are separate plans.

1. One is a traditional plan (copay for doctor visits and prescriptions) that
a. takes $77 from each paycheck
b. has a deductible of $500
c. has an out-of-pocket maximum of $2,000

2. The second is what they call ‘consumer directed’, where instead of a copay, I pay the full cost of a doctor visit (except for preventative care). I still only pay a copay for generic drugs on this plan. It
a. takes $54 out of my paycheck
b. has a deductible of $1,200
c. has an out-of-pocket maximum of $3,500
d. includes a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) which will have $500 contributed to it by the company and be provided to me on a nifty debit card. The HRA will rollover year to year if I don’t use it all

3. The third is their ‘high deductible consumer directed’ plan, where I pay the full cost of both doctor visits and drugs (unless they are preventative). It
a. takes $30 out of my paycheck
b. has a deductible of $2,250
c. has an out-of-pocket maximum of $4,000
d. includes a Health Savings Account (HSA) which will have $500 contributed to it by the company. I can also put pre-tax dollars from my paycheck into the HSA, and again it will rollover year to year.

At my former company, we didn’t have to pay anything for our medical/vision plans (awesome/crazy, I know), so I’m feeling the sting of having to contribute. I want to go for one of the consumer directed plans to save some money out of my paycheck, but I have no real conception of how much health care actually costs. I’m generally a healthy person, but you never know. Last year I tore ligaments in my ankle which meant x-rays, physical therapy, and follow up visits. That would add up quickly if I was paying full cost! I play a lot of sports in my free time so another injury like that wouldn’t be that surprising. But I do have some savings so if I hit that $4,000 out-of-pocket maximum I could deal. It would just be a good chunk of my savings gone. I also have no regular drugs that I take (thank you IUD!), so paying the full cost of prescriptions wouldn’t be a regular burden on my wallet.

Are any Billfold readers on a plan like the consumer directed ones my company offers? Does anyone have an idea of what typical doctor visits cost (like for strep throat or something of that nature)? Or what prescription drugs cost (say an antibiotic)? Is $77 out of my paycheck an awesome deal, and I am just super spoiled by my old company’s plan? Help!

– Super Indecisive Lady

See also from Consumer Reports: Three important points to consider when choosing a health care plan.

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

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