11 Ways You Can Save On Health Care and Medical Expenses
Blog | March 10th, 2021
Health care and medical expenses can add up, especially if you don’t have insurance. Even though avoiding these costs isn’t always possible, there are steps you can take to reduce what you spend on health care.
With the average American spending just under $12,000 a year on medical expenses, the following tips could help you save money.
A simple medical issue can escalate and result in a costly trip to the emergency room if you don’t address it. It’s best to spend money on annual checkups and preventive services rather than waiting.
An annual checkup can help your health care provider detect problems early and reduces risks of complication if you have a condition that requires monitoring.
You can also be proactive about your health by quitting smoking, being more active, and adopting a healthy diet.
Shop Around for the Best Prices
Don’t let your medical bill be a surprise. Contact your doctor’s office when you need a service and ask about prices. Don’t hesitate to contact different providers so you can compare prices.
The same thing applies if you need a prescription. Shop around to find the best price, and consider online pharmacies or pharmacies that sell medication in bulk. You could also ask your doctor for a sample. For over-the-counter products, look for deals, and use coupons.
Medical bills can be difficult to understand, but you should review them carefully. Always ask for an itemized list of the services received along with their prices.
Watch out for errors and ask for an audit if you don’t think the bill corresponds to the services you received.
When you file a claim with your insurance provider, compare the bill and the explanation of benefits to make sure your insurance provider is reimbursing you for what your plan covers.
Ask for Generic Prescriptions
Did you know that brand-name medications cost 18 times more than generics on average? Always ask if a generic exists when a health care provider prescribes something.
Use Prescription Discount Cards
If you don’t have insurance or need a medication your plan doesn’t cover, Prescription Cards can help you save a few dollars.
Prescription Card providers negotiate lower prices with pharmacies. There is a fee that goes to the pharmacy and another fee that goes to the card provider in these transactions. However, the total price can be lower than what the pharmacy charges for a prescription.
Understand Your Health Insurance Plan
If you have a health insurance plan offered through your employer or a plan that you purchased, you should go over your policy to make sure you understand what it covers. If something isn’t clear, contact HR or your plan provider to ask a few questions.
If there are gaps in your coverage, consider purchasing supplemental insurance. Vision and dental plans are common, but you can purchase supplemental insurance that covers specific conditions or things like transportation expenses if you need to travel to receive treatment.
Look for Affordable Insurance Options
If you’re uninsured or feel that you’re spending too much on premiums, it’s time to look into affordable health insurance options.
For those over 65, enrolling in Medicare helps reduce medical expenses. Depending on your income, you might qualify for a Medicaid plan through your state.
If you don’t qualify for these programs, your best option is to visit the Healthcare.gov marketplace to look for plans available in your state. The marketplace allows you to compare different plans and see premiums.
These plans cover between 60 and 90% of your expenses after you reach your deductible. There is an out-of-pocket maximum to protect you from high costs and no limits on reimbursements.
Choose the Right Plan
It’s important to choose a health insurance plan that makes sense for your needs and budget. A plan with a high deductible can be a good option if you’re not likely to need medical services or live in an area where you can easily shop around to find lower prices.
A plan with a low deductible means you will get more coverage, but there will be a higher monthly premium to pay.
You should also look at the out-of-pocket limit. It’s a cap on what you spend within a year. Once you reach this limit, your plan will cover 100% of your expenses. Choose a plan with a limit that corresponds to what you have in your emergency fund.
Don’t forget to consider in-network providers when choosing a plan. You can get discounts when using these providers, but you need to make sure there are plenty of in-network providers in your area.
Communicate with Billing Departments
If you owe money on medical bills, you should reach out to the billing department that issued those bills. Ask if you can set up a payment plan so you can keep up with the payments without facing late fees. If you already owe late fees, try negotiating to see if the billing department can lower those fees.
If you have high medical bills, you can deduct some of these expenses. You’ll have to take the itemized deduction and list your medical expenses on Schedule A. In 2021, you can deduct expenses over 7.5% of your 2020 adjusted gross income.
Some hospitals, clinics, and pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs. You can apply to one of these programs if you meet certain income requirements to get discounts or even free services and prescriptions.
Even though the cost of most medical services remains high, there are a few things you can do to reduce these expenses. If you don’t have insurance or pay for coverage that doesn’t correspond to your needs, finding an affordable plan should be a priority!