Catastrophic health insurance plans—more formally known as High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)—were created as a way to lower overall medical costs by providing a lower monthly premium in exchange for a higher annual health insurance deductible. With catastrophic health insurance plans, you pay for almost all medical care until you reach the annual deductible amount. After that, traditional health insurance coverage begins.
Where to Get Catastrophic Health Insurance
High deductible health insurance can usually be purchased either as an individual plan or as a group plan. Certain pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and mental health disorders, might mean you can’t qualify for an individual catastrophic health plan without prior qualifying group coverage, or at least that you can’t get coverage for those pre-existing conditions. Group catastrophic health plans are subject to HIPAA regulations, meaning you can’t be denied enrollment or coverage, but may have to wait for coverage of pre-existing conditions, depending on your prior health insurance coverage.
What Do High Deductible Health Plans Cover?
The type of coverage varies based on which high deductible health insurance plan you choose. Always read and understand the full policy and what it covers when comparing health insurance plans. Ask your agent or company to explain anything that seems unclear, and make sure you will get or can add coverage for medical conditions you might develop. In the past, catastrophic health plans did not cover things like routine care and prescriptions. Today, however, many high deductible health plans offer coverage for routine and non-catastrophic care. However, as a general rule, the more a plan covers, the higher the premium will be. Agreeing to pay more out of your own pocket shifts some of the risk away from the health insurance company on to you, resulting in a lower monthly premium.
Should You Get a High Deductible Health Plan?
If you’re sure you can cover the deductible and want to save money on the monthly premiums, a high deductible health plan may make sense. If you qualify for an HSA or other tax-exempt medical savings account and can contribute the deductible amount, you may have an easy way to pay your out-of-pocket medical costs while saving on premiums. Most people who consider catastrophic health insurance either are getting their own health insurance for the first time or are nearing retirement. The younger group tends to be less likely to incur medical expenses because they are young and healthy, while the older group tends to have enough money to pay for most medical care unless they experience a serious illness or emergency. Typically, high deductible health plans provide the most benefit to those who don’t require frequent prescriptions or office visits.