5th December: Increasing health insurance costs requiring higher premium payments from employees are a cause of serious concern.

Such increased health insurance payments are making a big hole in the pockets of majority of households.

High cost of health insurance for households--Between 2003 and 2010, an increase of 50 percent has been witnessed in the health insurance premiums for family coverage in almost all US states.

And annual share of health insurance premiums to be paid by employees has gone up by 63 percent during the same time period.

Speaking about the increased health insurance premiums, vice president of Affordable Health Insurance for the Commonwealth Fund, Sara Collins, said around 74 percent of employees with private-employer health plans had to face deductibles in 2010 while in 2003, none of such workers faced any deductible.

Average health insurance premium by families in each US state annually was stated to be $13,781 in the year 2010. And seeing the current trend, by the year 2020, families will have to shell out nearly 72 percent higher premiums for health insurance.

Health care reform for curbing increasing premiums—According to chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, health care reform targeting three areas can cut growth of health insurance premiums. This includes increased workplace wellness schemes. Moreover, improvised care coordination and prevention programs can control obesity and diabetes, he added.

Ways to control health care costs—

• Shop around—To cut your health care costs, you need to shop around and seek alternative health care options. These include less costly prescribed drugs. Moreover, resorting to preventive health care choices can also prove beneficial in controlling health care costs, says Dr. Katy Votava. Some of preventions could be annual health check-ups, preventive screenings and vaccinations, she added.

• FSA—An FSA(flexible spending account) gives your access to pre-tax dollars for paying expensed uncovered by health insurance like doctor visit co-pays, health insurance deductibles, purchases of prescribed drugs. So, make sure to maximize contributions to FSA.

• Healthy lifestyle—Adhering to a healthy lifestyle including balanced eating and following an exercise regimen can prove helpful in cutting health care costs. Such routine can cut the incidence of high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, diabetes and heart ailments.