How to Get Affordable Medical and Dental Insurance Plans

Finding affordable medical and dental insurance plans can be as difficult as it is important.

Your family’s overall health depends on everyone getting regular checkups so that problems can be treated while they’re small and manageable. But where can you find cheap health coverage for yourself and your family?

Consider Your Options

If your employer offers health insurance benefits, participating in that policy is usually your cheapest option. However, you may work part-time or for a small company that doesn’t offer benefits.

Alternatively, you may be self-employed or unemployed. Does that mean you have to give up on having inexpensive health coverage? Fortunately, the answer is no. You still have some options available to you.

One option is to find a group that you can buy insurance through, such as a professional organization or a credit union. Like businesses, groups benefit from lower costs because the risk is spread over more people.

Another option is to buy your own individual or family plan. While this option can be pricey, you can lower your costs in several ways.

Lowering Your Costs

One way to lower your costs is to choose and HMO or PPO plan. With one of these types of plans, you pay lower premiums in exchange for choosing a health care provider from a specified list.

Another way to lower your costs is to search for a policy from an insurance comparison website. On one of these websites, you fill out a simple online form with information about yourself and your insurance needs. Once you submit the form, you’ll receive quotes from multiple companies.

Using a comparison website, you can quickly and easily compare quotes from several companies and be able to choose the least expensive quote that meets your needs.

On the best comparison websites, you can also talk with an insurance professional and get answers to your questions, plus get advice on how to lower your premium.

A Huge Mistake Made by Most Medical and Dental Websites

Multiple marketing studies have found that 87% of people never read an entire web page. They skim and scan and generally only read the bullet points. For this reason, the initial pages that a visitor sees on a website should consist only of bullet points and easy to identify navigation links.

People don’t want to read a lot of information while hunting. They switch from hunting to gathering and are ready to read only when they feel they are at the right place on your website. If they are interested in what you have to say, they are willing to navigate 3-4 pages deep to get the information.

Let’s put these statistics into perspective with a medical or dental website. In a recent study by Google, they found that when a patient conducts a search for a medical practice or dental practice, 84% of the time they only want one of two things:

1. They want the practices phone number and/or
2. They want directions to the practice.

If 87% of the general population only skims the page and reads the bullet points, and 84% of your visitors only want your phone number or directions to your office; why is it that medical and dental websites make it difficult for the visitor to find the information they are seeking? They make a visitor muddle through large blocks of text to uncover the information that they seek. This is a huge mistake that is made by most medical and dental websites.

Medical and Dental Expenses – A Commonly Overlooked Deduction

Doctor’s bill weighing you down? Don’t sweat it! They might be deductible. In fact, there are a lot of clients that we work with who are not aware of the fact that those costly doctor’s visits can benefit you come tax time. Here is a list provided by the IRS to see if your medical and dental expenses are deductible. This version is simplified so that you do not have to be a tax professional like me to understand terms like “AGI threshold” and “qualified expenses”:

1. All “qualified” medical and dental bills paid out of pocket that are above 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income(calculated on Line 37 of Form 1040). Qualified bills will be explained below.

2. The first qualification test is that YOU must pay the expenses. They cannot be paid by your employer or insurance company. Such examples would be deductibles, co-pays or health insurance premiums that are not withheld from your paycheck.

3. The second qualification test is that your expenses MUST be paid for you, your spouse or anyone you claim on your tax return such as: children, friends/relatives that you support financially and live with you or elderly/disabled relatives that you support, but live outside of your household. In addition, if you are divorced or separated and the other parent claims your child, you can still deduct any qualified expenses you pay out of pocket for the child.

4. The third qualification test is that the expenses need to be “paid for the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness.” This can include a variety of expenses, ranging from doctor prescribed weight-loss or smoking cessation programs to any prescription medication you are taking. This does NOT include any voluntary weight-loss programs or over the counter medications(except for insulin).

5. In addition to the expenses above, mileage and/or transportation costs for medical care are also deductible. For example if you have to use public transportation to get to the doctor, save those receipts. Likewise, if you drive your own car, keep track of the mileage, especially if you have to drive out of state to receive medical care. In addition, tolls and parking fees are deductible. What is not covered is any international medical travel, so if you live near the Canadian or Mexican border and get your medications or treatment there, you cannot deduct these expenses.

6. If you have a Health Savings Account or Flex Spending Arrangement at work and have to withdraw any money for medical purposes you can do so without having to pay any tax on this distribution.

So to summarize – the health expenses must be above 7.5% of your AGI, they must be out-of-pocket expenses that are not reimbursed, they must be for yourself or anyone else listed or claimed on your tax return(or your child if you are divorced and still pay for their medical care), they must be to prevent or alleviate a physical or mental defect or illness, you can deduct mileage and/or transportation costs and finally, any distributions from Health Savings plans used for the qualified expenses explained above will not be taxable.

Please note that this list is only a recommendation and is not a substitute for a one on one consultation with your tax professional. If you would like to consult with myself or one of my fellow Tax Patriots, please contact us and we will assist you in any of your tax issues.