Understanding Your Employee Healthcare Plan

Author: Sarah Kunkle

Understanding your employee healthcare plan

Many professionals choose to receive health insurance as part of their employee benefits. Doing so eliminates the need to seek out such coverage on one's own, which can be a fairly daunting process, and it can often present a more cost-effective option than privately purchasing a health plan.

Recent and upcoming developments in the field of employer-provided health insurance may mean that these plans could be more affordable than ever before. A recent national survey of the major U.S. companies providing employee health coverage found that these businesses expect their bills for health benefits to rise next year, but only by 5.4 percent. This constitutes the lowest increase that has been seen since 1997, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While cost increases are lower than previous years, it may not be cause for you to celebrate just yet.

It's almost a given that companies providing health coverage for their staff will have to make up those costs somehow, and the aforementioned survey found this to be true. Employers are expected to raise deductibles, periodical employee contributions to insurance premiums and perhaps co-payment rates for doctor's visits and hospital stays as a result of lower-than-average increases.

You have to read your company's coverage plan carefully to understand its benefits, deductibles, copays and other related costs to the letter, or risk the insurance equivalent of sticker shock when you see your bill.

If your current employer plan suits you, by all means stick with it - the same goes for private insurance. But if it does not, it's best for you to investigate your alternatives thoroughly, to see if you can get the healthcare you need without unnecessary expenditures.

How does your current healthcare plan work? Is it affordable?

In Brief

  • Many professionals choose to receive health insurance as part of their employee benefits.
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