Today’s guest post was submitted by Anita Fernandes of Everyday Health, which is the parent company of MedPage Today, a medical site that partners with popular physician blogs like KevinMD. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you are no doubt familiar with Everyday Health.
Some of today’s money-saving recommendations are common sense; others I’ve never considered. Hopefully, at least one tip will resonate. We’ve budgeted about $20,000 a year, or 25% of our annual spending, for healthcare alone.
The following bio was provided by Everyday Health:
Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on mental health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers.
Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.
10 Tips to Help You Save Money on Your Healthcare Expenses
Healthcare expenses are unavoidable and reports show that more than 25% of adults in the US struggle to pay their medical bills. Unfortunately the cost of healthcare continues to rise which is why it is important to learn more about what you can do to reduce your healthcare expenses.
The good news is that there are several ways in which you can save your money and yet receive the care that you require.
1. Don’t skimp on your healthcare insurance plan
You might be tempted to go with the health insurance plan that offers the lowest premiums but this is not the best way to cut back on your medical expenses. This is because plans with low premiums tend to have higher deductibles and they are also more likely to charge a higher co-pay.
Many low-cost plans also don’t cover certain tests or procedures which can send your medical expenses through the roof. When choosing a healthcare insurance plan, base your decision on how much you get out of the plan, the actual needs of your family and how much you can pay out of pocket.
2. Look for extras and discounts in your health plan
Some insurance policies offer a lot of valuable services and discounts that promote a healthy lifestyle. This could include everything from gym memberships and weight management programs to access to nutritionists and quit-smoking programs.
You can call the toll free numbers provided on the back of your insurance card to get more information on these services. The reason carriers offer these discounts is because they promote a healthier lifestyle which in turn will mean that you make fewer claims, a win-win situation for the carrier and you.
3. Get discounted group health plans through the Farm Bureau
You do not need to be a farmer to join your state’s farm bureau as anyone can become an associate member for $20 to $75 a year. Your membership will allow you to purchase a health plan through a state-wide farm bureau company, a regional farm bureau company or through a partner company, depending on your state.
Farm bureau members also enjoy several local benefits from prescription medication discounts to eye care discounts, LASIK surgery and more which could result in substantial savings.
4. Find out if you qualify for cost-sharing reductions
Most people think that cost-sharing reductions are only applicable to the poor. However, 56% of the Affordable Care Act subsidies go to middle-income families.
Cost-sharing reductions can help to lower your medical expenses, especially if you earn too much to avail of Medicaid but not enough for private plans. You can use the healthcare.gov calculator to find out if you qualify for a tax credit as well as how much you will save.
5. Talk to your insurer about advocate services
Big insurers generally offer advocate programs to help you get the treatment you need at affordable rates. Although health advocates’ costs are paid by the insurer, they negotiate medical financial issues on your behalf.
They can help you navigate your health insurance and resolve billing and claim issues to secure less costly outcomes. Health advocates can guide you every step of the way and help you save on medical expenses.
6. Request generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs
Prescription drugs can drastically increase your medical expenses, especially if you require several prescription medications. According to estimates from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) generic drugs cost 20-70% less than brand-name drugs.
Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs whenever possible as this will cut back on your medical expenses and help you gain financial independence.
[PoF: Also comparison shop for your prescriptions with sites and apps like GoodRx.]
7. Review your medical bills thoroughly before paying them
Studies show that there are high rates of errors in medical billing. If you have health insurance, you probably think that this is not your problem but your claim may be denied and you may have to follow-up with your carrier to get it sorted.
Furthermore, you will probably have to pay some of your medical bills through co-pays and deductibles which would affect how much you spend on medical expenses. Review every bill thoroughly before you pay it as this could save you anything from ten dollars to a thousand.
8. Avail of employer-provided Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Care Savings Account (HSA)
You can sign up for an FSA or HSA through your employer. An FSA will help you cut down on your medical expenses by allowing you to allocate pre-tax dollars towards prescriptions and other qualified items.
If you allocate your funds wisely, you can save approximately 750 dollars a year by maxing out your FSA contribution. FSA funds must be used within the calendar year. An HSA does not need to be used within a year and it can be invested so that it grows.
9. Use In-Network Providers
Depending on your coverage, you may have the option to see out-of-network providers. However, it makes more sense to use in-network providers instead as they have a contract with your carrier which means that they will charge you lower rates.
10. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
The best way to cut down on medical expenses is to get healthy and yet this is one of the most neglected aspects of personal healthcare. Follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep on a daily basis as this will improve your immunity and reduce your risk of falling ill.
Health insurance plan premiums have been increasing across the board which is why medical care today is such a gargantuan expense. However, with a little time and effort, you can cut down your healthcare expenses by hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year. You can use these savings to pay off debt and gain financial freedom.
There are several benefits to financial freedom including more security and less stress which allows you to lead a happier and healthier life. You will also improve your coping skills and adaptability which will give you greater resilience to face life’s challenges.
[PoF: Thank you for sharing 10 money-saving tips, Anita. The last one on focusing on your own health is a big one that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.
I recently detailed the option we chose for our healthcare coverage in 2020, now that I no longer have an employer footing the bill.
One option that was not mentioned above but deserves mention is choosing a healthcare sharing ministry, as many self-employed people have done. We considered it, but there were too many caveats and potential illnesses and issues that would not be covered for it to make sense for my family.
Finally, I’ll point to direct primary care as another option to both save money and get in-person, often at-home medical care. This is an emerging trend that I expect will become more commonplace as patients look for quality physician care without the hassles and costs of the current messy system we have.]
What additional ways do use save money on healthcare?