Clark Howard: Research plans for health insurance options

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Now that open enrollment season for health insurance is upon us, I want to outline four key things you need to know about health care going into 2015.
Large employers are seeing the smallest increases ever in the cost of providing health care to employees and their families since such records were kept.

Medical inflation is way down from where it has been historically. Whereas it used to be galloping, today it’s only nominally larger than general inflation.
That will help make us more competitive as a nation because we’ll be spending less of every dollar on health care.

For small businesses, there are huge differences in the cost of similar coverage from one carrier to another. If you use a health insurance broker, you need to shop that coverage.

The cost of small employer health coverage in most of the country is going down, not up. Most individuals buying their own coverages by color codes wind up buying silver. But there’s an odd thing going on. The silver plan you have may impose big increases for next year.

If you will go and shop either on your state’s health care exchange or off it, you may find a silver plan for next year that’s less than what you pay now. But by just doing a renewal and keeping doing what you’re doing, you will cost yourself money.

The most important caveat when you’re shopping is to pay close attention to the doctors who you are allowed to see. Ditto with the facilities. You want to be sure you have access to what you want at the lowest premium possible.

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website.

– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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