How to Survive a High-Deductible Health Plan

Brace yourself: Within a few years, your only choice for health insurance through your employer may be a high-deductible health plan.

These plans have smaller monthly premiums, but there’s a trade-off: You have to pay a lot more out-of-pocket before your insurance begins to cover a portion of your bills. Those up-front payments, or deductibles, as defined by the IRS (PDF), are a minimum of $1,300 per year for individual insurance coverage and $2,600 for a family. And that’s only the minimum.

In reality, individuals are paying an average $2,295 before insurance kicks in and families are ponying up $4,364 on average, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a heavy financial burden for many of them.

A result: More people are skipping or postponing medical care because they can’t afford to pay so much up front.

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