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5 reasons to consider a high-deductible health insurance plan Posted: May 30th, 2012

By Barbara Marquand

High-deductible health insurance plans coupled with health savings accounts feature lower-than-average premiums and give you a way to save for medical expenses for years to come.

Whether you're shopping for individual health insurance or choosing among plans offered by your employer, here are five reasons to consider a high-deductible plan with an HSA.

1. Lower premiums

Generally, the higher the health plan deductible, the lower the premium. This is a primary reason a growing number of employers are offering high-deductible plans and why cost-conscious consumers are choosing them.

2. Fully covered preventive care

You have to satisfy the deductible before insurance coverage kicks in for medical treatment. That rule does not apply to preventive care, however. Under the federal health care reform law, most insurance plans must cover preventive care 100 percent, which means insurers can't charge you anything out of pocket for those services. Preventive care includes a variety of screenings, well-child visits, birth control and more. A full list of covered services is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

3. Tax advantaged-saving

You contribute pretax money to the health savings account (up to IRS limits), and the money grows tax-free. (It can also be withdrawn tax-free if it's used for qualified medical expenses.) The contribution limits for 2012 are $3,100 for an individual and $6,250 for a family. People 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000.

4. Money rolls over

Flexible spending accounts let you set aside pretax money each year from your paycheck for medical expenses, but they come with a use-it-or-lose-it rule. Any unused money from one year goes back to your employer. The money in the HSA rolls over from one year to the next. You keep the account, even if you change jobs or health plans.

5. Savings help for retirement

Before retirement, you can use the money in the HSA for qualified medical expenses. After age 65, you can use the money for anything; withdrawals for nonmedical expenses after age 65 are taxed as ordinary income.

When shopping for individual coverage, check health insurance quotes for comparable policies from several carriers. Besides the deductible, consider other out-of-pocket expenses, including co-payments for office visits and co-insurance -- the percentage you pay toward treatment after the deductible is satisfied.