Close the gap on medical costs with voluntary insurance


Close the gap on medical costs with voluntary insurance

You have health insurance, right? So what’s that heavy weight you feel?

It could be the increasing burden of health care expenses you’re shouldering. The cost for a family of four covered by a typical employer-sponsored health plan was $10,473 last year, according to the Milliman Medical Index.

This would include your premiums. If you’re typical, about 40% of your load is out-of-pocket expenses: the part you must pay before your insurance kicks in or what your insurance won’t cover. Think deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. On top of that, you may also face nonmedical expenses, such as travel to treatment, child care, special equipment or home modifications, or lost income caused by time away from work.

Bad news: Most experts think costs will continue to rise.

Good news: You may be able to better manage your out-of-pocket expenses with voluntary insurance coverage available at work.

“Voluntary insurance is coverage beyond major medical that your employer can offer as part of your benefits package,” explains Steven Johnson, vice president of products at Colonial Life. “It’s designed to supplement your medical plan by helping cover those out-of-pocket expenses that can really strain your family’s financial security.”

Common types of voluntary insurance include disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. (Yeah, that last one’s a mouthful. It basically pays a lump sum to help cover hospital stays, outpatient surgery, diagnostic tests, doctor appointments and emergency room visits.)

Depending on the type of coverage you buy, you could receive benefits when, for example, you have an accident that keeps you out of work, break your arm, are diagnosed with cancer, suffer a stroke or have an X-ray. Most voluntary insurance pays a set amount when the covered events happen and don’t depend on what your bills are or what other insurance you have. The money is paid directly to you to use however you need — for medical bills or even to buy gas and groceries.

You pick the type of coverage you and your family need, and pay for it yourself, Johnson said. “Because the coverage is offered to everyone in your workplace, it’s more affordable and easier to qualify for than buying your own plan on the open market. The cost often is usually deducted directly from your pay, which could also reduce your taxes.”

If your employer doesn’t offer these kinds of benefits, you can ask them to. With employees paying for the coverage themselves, there’s no direct cost to your employer. Pretty much a win-win.

And maybe some of the load off your shoulders.

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