Health Insurance for $200?
October 17, 2006 11:53 PM   Subscribe

Min-Max Health Insurance for $200

I am 90% sure I am going to take a job with a small company, and while that company doesn't have a health plan as such, part of the offer I have includes $200/month for health insurance premiums.

What should I look for inside of that limit?

About me: I'm a 21 year old male, slightly overweight, non-smoker. Healthy.

Ideas I've had:

HSA style insurance, convincing new boss to let me take savings and apply them to the HSA account instead of the premium. (initial estimates at $100 for the plan, leaving 100/month for the health savings account)

Full Coverage style insurance with doctor copays and drug benefit. (the full $200/mo)

Small rider: I'd like dental and vision as well.
posted by cschneid to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
You don't need dental unless you're a big fan of picking fights. Most dental plans top out at about the point you'd need them to pick up the slack. Also, it's rare to have dental work which must be done immediately. Suck up the biyearly cleaning/exam fees and sock away some cash to pay for the inevitable.
posted by Coda at 12:57 AM on October 18, 2006

I don't carry any dental insurance (twenty something year old with no cavities, though a couple 'soft spots' that were filled).

I pay ~75/6 mos for my checkups, and ~50 for xrays once a year. I think my dental insurance at work was like $350/yr + copays.
posted by SirStan at 5:34 AM on October 18, 2006

You don't say where you are, but in the US you should be able to find health insurance as a 21 year old for $200/mo easy. has a number of plans, the most expensive for your age that comes up when I try it for my zip is $131.

I have yet to see a case where vision coverage wasn't a complete waste of time. In most cases it's just discounts on services and not even good ones. Optical injuries will be covered by your regular insurance plan.

Dental is more of a gray area but typically you'd do just as well to self-insure. As coda mentions the maximums aren't usually very high and they're a nightmare to work with. While that's not your problem per se if the dentist bills them directly the end result is usually that they kick back some amount of claims if they're even the remotest bit off typical. (example: I have poor gums and need root planing on a regular basis. it's that or i spit out teeth at an earlier age. every. single. time. the dental coverage makes us go through this submit;reject;resubmit;argue process.)

You might look into a health savings account ( and A flexible spending plan would have to be set up by your employer, which it sounds like they won't do.
posted by phearlez at 7:03 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick responses for vision/dental. I'll read the fine print on both as they come along and crunch some numbers to make sure they are worth it.

The idea behind this question is to max out my $200. I recognize I can get insurance, but what should I be looking for specifically in a plan?
posted by cschneid at 7:17 AM on October 18, 2006

You want to be looking at the deductible. If you are paying $200, you should have a reasonable deductible, anywhere from $500-1000. You want to make sure your copayments are reasonable, and what your cost will be for medication.

Also you probably want to see how much they cover for emergency visits. Independent health plans cover anywhere for 60-90%. Generally, you might want to go for the plan that covers 90%, cause God forbid something happens to you and then you get hit with a $2,000 bill after the insurance covers their share.

You might not want to spring for vision, as they don't cover much. You can compare dental insurance plans at, they have a pretty good selection and let you know the cost for specific services and how many dentists in each plan are in your area.
posted by wilde at 8:37 AM on October 18, 2006

Wilde's got it - the deductible's the big thing. I'd aim for between $250 and $500, if you can. Also, pay attention to what percentage the insurance co. pays after your deductible is met. Ideally you want something that covers all in-network expenses after your deductible is met (except copays - you always pay those), but plans that pay 80% of the total aren't unusual. If there are any medications you take on a regular basis, check to see if those are covered by the plan. If there are certain doctors or facilities you prefer, you could check to make sure those are considered in-network by the plan as well.

Seconding the others on the vision plans. They're pretty worthless. Dental plans vary. Some are nothing more than discount plans, but others offer decent coverage. I'm not sure you'd be able to get anything worthwhile on the budget you've been given, but that's also dependent on where you're located.

I know you said you work for a small company, but if it were me, I'd discuss getting a group plan with my boss. There are plans that require only two employees to be considered a group, and group insurance is always better than individual in my experience.
posted by curie at 9:22 AM on October 18, 2006

I agree with the others re: deductible and co-pays. Not only are you looking for coverage, you're also looking for what your out-of-pocket will be. Think about what you'll realistically need in the next 10 years. Maybe an accident (deductible), and some trips to the doctor, both wellness or illness (visit co-pays). Maybe you'll need to start on a prescription or two (prescription co-pays).
These are the costs that you'll be paying in addition to insurance, so it's important to consider them when choosing a plan.

Same thing goes for vision and dental. It's unlikely that the vision insurance is worth what you'd spend, though. With dental, that really depends on your own personal dental history and needs as to whether it's worth it.

In my experience (here in MA), comprehensive coverage for an individual costs well over $200. YMMV, I suppose.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:10 AM on October 18, 2006

Health insurance alone for someone your age should be like $40 a month. Seriously. Not including vision/dental.
posted by geoff. at 12:50 PM on October 18, 2006

Oh well yeah you'll have high co-pays.
posted by geoff. at 12:54 PM on October 18, 2006

Health Savings Accounts are not a good idea unless you have a great deal of liquid cash to use -- at least $2k + that can be called upon immediately in case of a health emergency.

I agree with most of what everyone else has said, though. I live in Arkansas, am a 25y.o. male, slightly overweight, no smoking, with allergies and a few other small health issues. I pay $95/mo w/BCBS, and that covers all my prescriptions at $10/$30/$50 (generic, preferred name brand, non-preferred name brand). I got the doctor's visit co-pay option, and I think I pay $25 when I go to the doctor.

Interestingly, my insurance has also covered just about everything I've had that was above and beyond the Doctor's visits. For example, I had mono a few months ago and had to have a number of blood tests done. All the extra services my doctor had to do were above and beyond the normal range of coverage. Nonetheless, I received notices from BCBS that said "my provider had agreed not to charge me for these services." So I feel like I've been treated pretty well between BCBS and my doctor to recommend BCBS.

Note on COBRA: If you are offered COBRA coverage for your Dental/Vision -- TAKE IT!! I know when I left my previous company, I was offered COBRA dental for $25/mo, and I didn't act in time and now I'm kicking myself without the coverage. Like others, it's not a huge deal, but if you can have a lower rate than you'd have if you had to go it alone, you're better off.
posted by PandemicSoul at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2006

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