Picking health coverage for 2010? Good luck

Man, it used to be easy. Health Plan A or Health Plan B. The differences weren’t hard to understand. Most of the time you just picked the same plan and that was fine.

If you’re in the middle of navigating your employer health care options for 2010 you’re likely longing for the old days. We asked Minnesotans in MPR’s Public Insight Network to tell us about their options for 2010 and what else we should know about buying health care.

We got an earful back. Some folks love their choices. Others are trying some novel combinations. Some are rolling the dice — going uninsured. (Add your voice.)

Click on the map icons to read the stories.

Nationally more than four in 10 employers surveyed plan to boost deductibles, copayments and out-of-pocket maximums in2010 due to the economic crisis, according to the consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

While they’re adding incentives to stay healthy, employers are also pressing consumer directed health plans to control costs. These plans typically offer lower-premiums and a health savings account but with very high deductibles.

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Al Heebsh, a Network source and chemist from New Brighton, says his employer is “making a concerted effort to get people to choose a consumer directed plan rather than a more traditional plan. They increased premiums a little for the traditional plan while decreasing the premiums for the consumer directed plan significantly…”

He’s not sure yet which one he’ll choose. “The consumer directed plan is more complicated, almost as if they are trying to confuse you into using less health care. I would rather have the traditional plan.”

Sometimes having everyone on the same plan isn’t the cheapest.

“My employer is now offering coverage for “Employee + Children” rather than just Employee OR Family coverage,” Amanda Kelly, a Network source from Hanover told us.

“This means that we can save money by having my husband go it alone on one of the plans offered at his company and myself and the kids will be on my company’s insurance plan. The employee + children option is MUCH cheaper than family coverage.”

The New York Times and Kiplinger’s recently put together some good advice to help in the decision making.

If you’ve been put out of work, the U.S. Labor Department has some surprisingly readable information on your rights and options re: health coverage.

That assumes, of course, you can afford it.

Pamela Nelson said the best health plan option available to her family is the equivalent of buying a new car every year.

“Here’s the ‘least expensive’ option for our family of four, since we do not qualify for MN Care or Medicare and do not work for employers who offer health insurance benefits: $600/month for a $10,000 deductible (catastrophic) plan…,” says Nelson, a Shoreview consultant .

We would basically pay $17,000/year before their 80/20 coverage would even kick in. Lower deductible plans cost considerably more up front/monthly. Both of us are independent consultants underemployed currently and do not qualify for unemployment. Paying for health insurance is just not even a remote possibility right now…

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Got a health care plan for 2010? Like your options? Post below or click here and tell us.

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