Consumer Reports: Surviving a high-deductible health plan

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Consumer Reports has advice on how to keep your health insurance from wiping you out. (WLS)

More and more people are signing up for high-deductible health insurance plans. Some are swayed by the lower monthly premiums. But often people don't have a choice. A quarter of all employers offering insurance now only have plans with high deductibles. Consumer Reports says these plans have a real downside. It has advice on how to keep your health insurance from wiping you out.

High-deductible health plans can really set you back. Before employer insurance kicks in, individuals have to pay an average of nearly $2,300 a year and for families more than 4,000.

"People are finding the deductibles so unaffordable that they're putting off care or they're not getting care at all. They're not filling prescriptions. They're not going to the doctor," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Donna Rosato.

Monique Dow's only insurance option carried a $6,000 deductible. She put off surgery and almost didn't discover that she had cancer.

"It was scary to me that I almost didn't do the surgery, the first surgery, to just know what was growing inside my body. Because I knew it would be a lot of money," said cancer survivor Monique Dow.

If you're forced into a high-deductible plan, how can you afford the care you need?

First, use the tool on your insurance company's website to check prices of treatments and procedures. The differences between providers can be enormous.

"Also consider opening a health savings account. That's an account where you put in pre-tax dollars, which you can use to pay your deductible and other qualified healthcare expenses. And that is money that if you don't spend it all this year, you can use it next year, too," Rosato said.

And be aware a lot of preventative health services such as colonoscopies and vaccinations are free and don't count toward your deductible.

If you are skipping medical care because you can't afford the out-of-pocket costs, Consumer Reports recommends talking to your doctor. Doctors can often help you find less expensive prescriptions, diagnostic tests and other health services. More of Consumer Reports' advice on surviving a high-deductible health plan is available here.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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