Healthcare is a huge expense for most families. From insurance premiums to prescription drugs and co-pays, paying for medical expenses can quickly eat up all one’s income. Fortunately, there are ways to save money and keep costs down to a reasonable level. Here are some tips to follow.
Find the right insurance plan for your needs
This does not necessarily mean picking the cheapest one, as it likely will not be cost-effective in the long run. Consider the average number of times your family visits the doctor per year and incorporate prescriptions and dental visits. If anyone in your family has special medical needs or sees a specialist, think about that as well when making your decision. Individual health insurance covers finding the best insurance in more detail.
Look into a high-deductible insurance plan
This is a good idea if your family is generally healthy and does not visit the doctor much. You could save hundreds of dollars in insurance premiums each month. While a high deductible means you are on the hook for medical expenses until your deductible is met, it will often save money and hassle over time.
Use a flexible spending account
If your employer offers one, use it. This account is tax-free and allows you to put money into it to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. However, flexible spending accounts operate on a “use it or lose it” basis, so whatever is not spent at the end of the year is lost. Therefore, accurate estimating is key to making this account a useful tool for you. Health insurance savings plans covers this in more detail.
Review bills carefully
It is estimated that 50% of medical bills contain errors. Incorrect information, such as diagnosis codes, account numbers or the wrong insurance company, can leave you being billed incorrectly. Check your bill when it comes in the mail, and if it seems odd, call the doctor’s office for clarification.
Simplee provides a service that stores all your medical records and allows you to track and pay your bills online. It makes it easier to keep track of medieval expenses, find errors, switch doctors and pay bills.
To know what you should be paying, Healthcare Blue Book and Fair Health offer free online resources that inform people what procedures, to include surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits and medical visits, typically cost. Those who do not have insurance should pay particular attention to the info these sites offer.
Use your network
Your insurance plan likely includes a network of medical professionals whom you are allowed to use. Although you may be allowed to use any doctor you wish, those who are out of your network will cost more. You can save at least 50% by using a doctor in your network. Check with your insurance company when switching doctors to see if the doctor of your choice is in your network.
Save on prescriptions
Learn how to save money on prescriptions. For example, use generic brands whenever possible. When visiting your doctor, keep a list of your insurance company’s covered medications on hand. Show it to your doctor and have him see if any of the drugs on the list can be used instead of a more expensive alternative.
Get free samples. If your doctor asks you to try a new medicine, ask him if he has a sample on hand. If you are afflicted with a rash, your doctor may have a tube of skin cream right there to treat it. If your doctor doesn’t have samples of the medication you need, look online to see if you can find a coupon for a free sample.
Cut pills. Many pills have the same co-pay, whether they are low-dose or high-dose. Therefore, you may end up with the high-dose version, even if you don’t require such a high dose. In many cases, you can split the pills in half, thus saving money by extending your prescription further. However, you should ask your doctor if this is safe to do.
Take preventative measures
There are many things you can do to prevent illness and injuries from occurring. The tips below are some of the best ways.
Get regular checkups – Seeing a doctor annually is a preventative measure that can help you handle any health problems early on and save money later. Your children’s vaccines protect them from contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases. In addition most insurance plans pay for preventative services.
Avoid the ER – The hospital emergency room should never be used as a substitute for your doctor. If you feel lousy on a Friday morning, see your doctor that day so you don’t have to spend the weekend in the ER.
See the dentist – It is recommended that you visit the dentist twice a year. Children should start seeing the dentist regularly after their first birthday. Invest in sealants and start good habits that will eliminate the need for costly and painful dental procedures.
For those who do not have insurance, Dental Plans has access to over 100,000 dentists nationwide that offer discount services.
Wash hands often – Soap and water can work wonders in terms of preventing the spread of germs that can cause the cold and flu. Wash your hands often and teach your children to do so as well. Carry hand sanitizer with you so it can be used when soap and water are not readily available.
Wear helmets – Helmets should be worn when roller skating or riding a bike or scooter. Falls can cause serious head injuries, which translate to medical bills.
Kick bad habits – Smoking, overdrinking, junk foods and other bad habits drain your health as well as your wallet. The sooner you kick them the sooner you will be happier overall.
Eat healthy and exercise – While this is way to big of a topic to cover here, the right eating and exercise habits are the single best way to prevent hospital visits.
Follow these tips and you can stay physically as well as fiscally fit.