If you’re in the market for a new health plan, you’ve probably heard the term “accumulator” tossed around. What is an accumulator and why should you be concerned? The short answer is that they are a type of contract between you and your health insurer that offers incentives for you to purchase insurance. These incentives can come in the form of payouts if you go the whole year without a medical examination, money-back guarantees on expensive medical services such as surgery, prescription drugs, etc. In addition, they can come in the form of reduced cost or reduced income from receiving coverage from another health plan.
The reason that these programs are so attractive is that they appeal to our desire for instant gratification. We like the idea of being able to sign up for a health insurance policy and start receiving benefits right away. We don’t want to wait; we want to get the process over with so we can move forward with life. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The simple fact is that without some form of protection, many people could find themselves in very serious financial trouble if they ever need to make use of their health insurance.
In addition to that, there are two other reasons that you should be considering changing health plans as quickly as possible. The first is that if you’re currently covered by a group health plan you’ll almost definitely want to move to a private plan. For most people, this isn’t a problem. The second reason to consider changing is that it makes sense financially to do so. If you’re paying less per month on your health plan than you were a few years ago, you may be tempted to stay with your current coverage simply because you’re used to getting what you need at the price you want.
Now, I’m not saying that you should jump ship and throw out your health care provider. That would be irresponsible. What I am suggesting, however, is that you take a moment to consider whether or not your current provider is worth the amount of money you’re currently paying. Remember, the accumulators are there to make sure you’re staying where you are. If it’s more money you’d be saving, why wouldn’t you want to change it? If you start thinking about the difference between what you’re currently paying for health insurance and what you could save if you switched, you may be surprised to learn that you’re actually considering changing.
This is important because often when we’re shopping for insurance, we start by thinking about what we’re currently paying and what we could save if we changed health plan companies. We don’t necessarily look at the accumulators and all of the extra interest that comes with them. In many cases, we don’t even realize that we’re actually wasting money!
When you stop and think about this, you can better understand the value of accumulators. If you’re in a situation where switching will make a big difference in how much you pay in premiums, make sure that you take the time to weigh your options. Remember, it’s okay to switch if it makes sense for your life. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking twice about signing up for the right policy. Instead, use the accumulators to help you budget time and get the information you need to make the best decision for your individual needs.