Besides your home mortgage, health insurance is most likely your next largest expenses every month. As we all get sick from time to time, canceling your health insurance coverage isn’t a good idea. Just because you need health insurance doesn’t mean your entire paycheck has to go to the insurance provider. These tips can help trim your current healthcare expenses every day of the year!
Contribute to an HSA
If you have a high-deductible health plan, you might qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA). These accounts are funded with pre-tax contributions (just like your 401k). And, you will not pay a penny in taxes on withdrawals when you pay for most medical expenses including doctor visits, prescription medication, and supplies.
Your HSA funds will never expire, and they can be a great way to plan for retirement. If you can contribute to your HSA your entire working career and never visit the doctor, you will have all those contributions available for use in retirement. Of course, if you need to visit the doctor tomorrow, you can use your HAS balance to pay the bill penalty-free too.
Join a Health-Sharing Ministry
Another popular option to reduce your monthly healthcare costs is by joining a health-sharing ministry. These ministries are very similar to your current health plan options except they are Christian-based and do not cover certain expenses like birth control. These plans aren’t technically “insurance,” but they are exempt from the Affordable Care Act penalties for not owning insurance.
The primary reason health-sharing plans are more affordable is that each member is a self-pay patient as you are technically “uninsured” as your plan’s membership card isn’t a proof-of-insurance card. When you visit the doctor, first ask for their self-pay rate which can be lower than what the insurance companies are billed. As a result, the savings are passed onto you and the other members that share the medical bills with you.
Ask for Cash Discounts
This advice applies to you whether you visit a medical doctor, dentist, or an eye doctor. Before presenting your insurance information, ask if they offer a cash discount. More medical offices offer discounts than you might imagine. It’s less work on them as they don’t have to file any paperwork with the insurance company, and the savings are passed onto you as a result!
If they don’t offer a discount, you have an insurance plan to fall back on. It never hurts to ask.
Visit an Urgent Care Clinic First
In the past few years, you have probably seen a type of business pop up that wasn’t in your town before. They are urgent care clinics. If you usually visit the emergency room or meet your family doctor every time you need medical attention, visiting an urgent care clinic can be notably cheaper and quicker.
Urgent care clinics can save you hundreds of dollars compared to visiting the emergency room for non-life threatening illnesses and events. And, most patients are seen within 15 minutes at these clinics as emergency rooms give preference to critical patients first.
Talk to an Online Medical Professional
Another way the Internet can help you save money is by video conferencing with an online doctor or nurse. Online consultations are an excellent option if your child might have the sniffles, for example, and you want an expert opinion that can be provided online or over the telephone.
Not only do you avoid spreading germs (or bringing home new ones) at your local clinic, but you also save money and time. And, these online consultations might even be free or steeply discounted through your health plan.
Only Do Necessary Appointments and Procedures
Each additional doctor visit and filled prescription costs more money and your insurance will only pay for a portion of each expense. No surprise there, right? In addition to choosing which facility you visit (i.e. urgent care clinic or emergency room), not going to the doctor in the first place can be even cheaper.
You might choose to do a follow-up visit monthly instead of bi-weekly for instance. Or you might wait until next year to schedule a procedure if you have already maxed out your health benefits for this year.
Order Prescriptions from Blink
Ordering your prescriptions online with Blink Health will help you save a few additional dollars instead of paying your pharmacy. Blink has pre-negotiated prices with over 57,000 locations across the U.S. including Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid locations. You may not even have to change pharmacies to enjoy the savings!
Choose a Higher Deductible
If you have the option of different annual deductibles, raising your deductible will reduce your monthly premium. For example, switching from a $5,000 annual deductible to a $10,000 annual deductible is one example.
This might be a good option if you and your family are healthy and rarely visit the doctor. The lower monthly premium and larger out-of-pocket spending requirement can still be cheaper than the monthly premium for a lower deductible that you never come close to reaching.
Take Advantage of Corporate Wellness Incentives
Companies are also inviting their employees to put more skin in the game by participating in corporate wellness programs to be rewarded for healthy behaviors and preventative care. For example, you might receive a $100 credit by getting an annual physical.
Your employer might also offer you a Fitbit device that tracks how many steps you take each day or the amount of vigorous exercise in a week. By reaching certain milestones, you can earn cash prizes or merchandise.
Review Your Statements for Coding Errors
Even the medical offices and insurance companies are human and prone to mistakes. It’s possible that you might have been overbilled on a recent visit. With a coding error, certain expenses might be considered ineligible for copay discounts. Before paying the bill, dispute the charges with your insurance company to see if the decision can be reversed.
With a little proactive planning, you can save money on healthcare. While some cost savings are only possible by switching health plan providers, other options like switching doctors or paying with cash can be achieved with your current plan. Open enrollment isn’t the only time you can save money on health care costs. The decisions you make on a daily basis can have a much larger effect.
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, a good credit score can affect your ability to get a job, a place to live, and will save you money whenever you need to borrow. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get yours free at Credit Sesame. It’s 100% free with no credit card required to signup. I’ve been using it for years to monitor my credit score.