Insurance trends that may help you save money

Get informed about these new developments to stay on top of your well-being -- and your budget

Save on Health insurance

Medical coverage is more expensive these days, and you’re probably footing more bills yourself. Rather than pay more out-of-pocket, consider these smart solutions:

Trend: Employer rewards for healthy habits

A recent survey indicates that 22 percent of companies will offer incentives by the end of 2011 to encourage employees to take care of their health. You might be able to get money for signing up for a health-care assessment, for example, or lowering your cholesterol. By 2016, 64 percent of companies plan to roll out such a program.

►Play it smart: Find out if your employer offers incentives for maintaining your health. If so, note deadlines and paperwork requirements. If not, ask about free or low-cost programs such as cancer screenings and weight-loss groups.

Trend: More mistakes on claims 

Insurance companies are denying fewer claims, and that’s good news. But a recent study shows that human errors are on the rise (likely due to the increase in claims being processed).

►Play it smart: Do not assume that because you have been reimbursed for a doctor’s visit or procedure you have gotten the correct amount. Carefully look at whether the explanation of benefits matches the amount on your payment, and promptly notify the insurer of any errors. Most policies impose a deadline—typically 60 days after payment is made—to file a dispute, so examine your bills closely, and call as soon as you see any discrepancy.

Trend: High-deductible policies

To cope with rising insurance costs, more people are opting for policies that have lower monthly premiums but require you to pay more up front before insurance kicks in.

►Play it smart: If you’re young and healthy, such policies might be worthwhile; check a website such as ehealthinsurance.com to compare plans. But make sure you have money saved to cover procedures or tests that fall below your spending cap, which could be several thousand dollars. And don’t forgo treatment for minor ailments just because you have to pay for it. Minor symptoms can become major—and costly—problems.