December 14, 2013


Cover Oregon's hidden HSA health insurance plans (Brent Hunsberger, November 26, 2013, Oregon Live)

I've written quite a bit this year about HSAs and their related insurance plans. They're not for everyone. If you use health care a lot, racking up a number of little bills, you might not want one. You'll be paying mostly out of pocket for those visits until you've exhausted your deductible.

But for healthy individuals, couples and some careful consumers, their lower premiums can make a lot of sense. If you keep expenses below your deductible, you can spend less overall using an HSA with lower premiums than with a lower-deductible plan with higher premiums.

Meanwhile, you're still protected from catastrophic health costs. Plus, under health reform, these plans must cover most preventive visits for no charge.

Bob Thompson says that's just what he needs. The 62-year-old Tigard triathlete rarely visits a doctor. But he has a blood-clotting disorder that lands him in the hospital about once a decade, he says. 

So he wants what essentially amounts to catastrophic-like coverage for those events. An HSA would allow him to save up money to foot the deductible for that hospitalization or to use on medical costs in retirement.

But because of his protein S deficiency, Kaiser Permanente would not let him move from his existing health plan onto its HSA-eligible plan, he said.

That changes in 2014. Insurers can't bar people because of a pre-existing condition. Thompson says he's eyeing one of Kaiser's HSA plans on Cover Oregon that costs $35 less per month than his current Kaiser plan.

"Cover Oregon appears to be a good thing for me in that they've bullied their way in to get insurance companies to be more competitive," Thompson said. "That has worked to my advantage."

Lisa Lettenmaier, owner of Health Source NW insurance brokerage in Tigard, says she discusses HSA-eligible plans with most men who are in good health and avoid doctors visits.

"If I ask, 'How often you go to the doctor,' and the wife chuckles and says, 'When I make him' or 'When the duct tape's not working,' then I'm going to put him on an HSA," she says.

She even puts healthy early retirees on them to save on premiums and to help them save money in the HSA for Medicare premiums or other costs in retirement.

Posted by at December 14, 2013 8:06 AM

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