February 2, 2016
For those with a health savings account (HSA) combined with a qualifying high-deductible health plan it helps to be aware of the changes that went into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
What’s changing with with your health savings account
The maximum contribution for 2016 is $3,350 for individuals and $6,750 for families. This is slightly more than 2015. However, anyone can contribute to their HSA, including family members and employers. Contributions for the 2015 tax year can be made through April 15, 2016 or the date the account holder files her/his taxes.
Oh, and if you’re 55+ you can add $1,000 to that contribution.
As of 2011, HSA funds cannot be used to purchase over-the-counter medicines unless specifically prescribed by a doctor. This will prevent funds from being used for items such as pain relievers and bandages.
Also, the penalty for using HSA funds for non-qualified medical expenses for those under the age of 65 (unless totally and permanently disabled) increased from 10 percent to 20 percent of the funds used for non-qualified expenses. Funds spent for non-qualified purposes also are subject to income tax.
Because of the available tax credit, Health Savings Account health plans help in reducing the net annual cost for health insurance!
Increased penalty on a health savings account
Funds may be withdrawn from an HSA for purposes other than qualified medical expenses, but the account holder will face both income taxes and a 20 percent penalty. Unused HSA funds carry over from year to year.
March 22, 2012
Use of PPO Networks Reduces Medical Bills
Jacki called. She asked why she was getting a big bill from the doctor. Wasn’t her health insurance supposed to pay for it? “I thought having health insurance would reduce my medical bills!”
The Short Answer
It’s a common question, especially from people who do not go to the doctor very often. How does a PPO network work with your insurance plan? How does it save you money? It’s simple really. Go to a doctor in your PPO network – get a discount. Go to a doctor not in your PPO – pay retail. Your choice.
Here’s a basic outline of the way it works when you go to a doctor that is in your PPO network. Let’s use the following example.
- CIGNA is your PPO network.
- When a doctor signs an agreement with CIGNA to be in their PPO then that doctor is agreeing to discount the cost of his services to anyone having a health insurance policy that participates in the CIGNA PPO network.
- When you go to a doctor in the CIGNA PPO the doctor sends the CLAIM to your insurance company. The doctor doesn’t care whether you’ve reached your deductible or not.
- Upon receiving the claim your insurance company discounts each service listed on the bill based upon the amount of discount agreed upon by the doctor.
- Your insurance company sends you an EXPLANATION OF BENEFITS (EOB) showing several things such as:
- the normal cost of the services you received
- the discount by the PPO
- the amount the insurance company paid to the doctor, if any
- the amount you owe
- You compare the doctor’s bill with the EOB from the insurance company to ensure you are being correctly billed and that you are getting discounts
A Tip on Tracking Doctor Bills
When I get a bill from ANY healthcare provider I hold on to it until I receive the EOB from my insurance company. Among other things, I want to see what services were charged and how much of a discount I received. The EOB also tells me how much was paid to the doctor by my insurance policy and finally how much I owe. The amount that I owe is shown on the EOB as “patient responsibility.”
Missing an EOB?
If you don’t get an EOB then it’s either because the doctor’s office either has not submitted the claim OR the insurance company told them to correct it and re-submit it.
You see, by law the insurance company must complete a claim in 30 days UNLESS there has been a problem with the claim, such as the claim having errors from the doctor’s office or missing vital info.
Help Has Arrived that Reduces Medical Bills
For just a few dollars per month you can have the services of the KARIS GROUP. They will help you with negotiation on any medical issues dealing with any provider. They will assist you in getting help paying off medical bills – even ones that you have NOW – and will negotiate major discounts for you. They will also shop around and find you the best value for medical services you need. And more…
They claim their service reduces medical bills by as much as 60%.
- A PPO network is not an insurance company. It is a separate organization.
- The discount applies even if you have not reached your deductible
- The doctors are obligated by contract to give you a discount
There are probably other things that may cause you to have questions about insurance. Hey, if it wasn’t complicated we insurance advisers wouldn’t have to spend hundreds of hours studying it.
Feel free to call or email me with questions or just leave a comment in the box below.