When reviewing your health insurance expenses, you may notice charges beyond just your premiums. These additional and often unexpected fees are known as “health insurance junk fees.” As out-of-pocket costs continue rising for policyholders, these annoying fees are becoming a bigger burden. In fact, the problem of health insurance junk fees have become so concerning that the Biden Administration has made it a talking point for reform in the second half of 2023.
What are health insurance junk fees?
What exactly are health insurance junk fees? They are add-on charges insurers tack onto your bill that provide little value while boosting their profits. Unlike your premium, which covers healthcare services, these fees pay for administrative costs or access to optional benefits.
Health insurance junk fees refer to hidden or unnecessary charges that are added to a policyholder's premium or medical bills, often without clear justification. These fees can include administrative costs and other miscellaneous charges that contribute little to actual healthcare coverage, potentially making insurance more expensive and confusing for consumers.
Common health insurance junk fees
Processing fees: Charges for submitting claims or other administrative needs. These processing fees range from a few dollars per claim up to $25 or more.
Convenience fees: Added costs for paying premiums in installments, via credit card, or through automatic bank drafts. Most credit cards charge the customers convenience fees of anywhere between 1-3%. It has become more and more common for those fees to be passed along to consumers.
Wellness program fees: Charges for accessing discounted gym memberships, health coaching, and similar wellness benefits offered through the insurer. Fees can be anywhere from $5-$50 monthly and while some policy holders take advantage of these benefits, they can also be an added expense. Your plan may not allow you to remove this charge, but it’s something to look out for when analyzing your bill.
ID card fees: Insurers often charge fees for replacement insurance cards, often $25 or more per card.
Paper statement fees: Added costs up to $2 per mailed paper policy statement and explanation of benefits. In Texas, the charges are limited by law on what can be charged, but each state can be different.
Always look for junk fees
While legitimate administrative costs exist, excessive junk fees can have a big impact on the insured. As a policyholder, you receive no additional coverage or services for paying them. And it can be difficult to avoid junk fees when paying bills or utilizing benefits.
The best approach is to carefully review all charges from your health insurer. Determine which fees are optional add-ons that could be declined or eliminated. Maintaining an online account and opting into e-delivery and auto-pay can prevent some convenience and statement fees too. If your total fees seem excessive, shop around to compare costs during open enrollment periods. Keeping a close eye on health insurance junk fees helps maximize your healthcare dollars.