Employer Health Insurance Premiums Rise for Chicago Workers

Chances are there's a surprise from your employer on its way to your mailbox, and it's not a Christmas card.

As they seem to do every year, health care premiums are going up in January, note Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. And employers are passing those costs on to us. Sometimes insurers will include a vague reference to costs associated with the federal healthcare reform as explanation for the hike, and sometimes they'll provide no reason at all. But while insurance companies can play it off like no big deal, a 20 percent increase in monthly payments presents a real problem for Americans hoping to get their spending on track for 2011.

Rate hikes hurt, but there are a few ways to make them less painful. For instance, are you regularly taking one or more medications? Switching from a brand-name to a generic can often save a bundle. Also, consider ordering your prescriptions online and having them mailed; it will save you the cost and time of driving to the pharmacy.

If you're generally healthy, consider a high-deductible plan. Increasing your out-of-pocket maximum will lower your monthly premium. Worried that you may not be able to afford costs if you do happen to require significant medical care next year? You may want to sign up for a plan with a health savings account. Not only can you add some money to the account to pay for unexpected medical expenses, but you can lower your tax obligation by doing so.

And how about joining a wellness program? More employers are offering incentives averaging $380 to enroll in classes intended to improve physical health, increase communication skills, help employees stop smoking, etc. It's a win-win, since you save money now while your company lowers future costs by having a healthier workforce.

Of course, we can sugarcoat the situation all we want, but higher premiums are going to create a hardship for many folks - especially those of us already struggling to pay the bills. If that sounds like you, remember that one of the fastest ways to improve your financial situation is to get out of debt. Find out if bankruptcy can free up more of your own money in 2011 when you sign up for a free personal debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.

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