Health care expenses are an unavoidable fact of life. Medical costs can consume an alarming chunk of your budget, regardless of your age. That’s why it’s best to take steps to shop for ways to control these costs.
If you don’t want to be caught off guard by surprise medical expenses, check out this helpful guide on how to reduce healthcare costs. Ask the right questions, and you just might save yourself a fortune.
How to Reduce Healthcare Costs
Cutting healthcare costs doesn’t have to mean compromising your level of care. Try these tips to help you maximize your current benefits and save money at the same time.
1. Know Your Health Plan
One of the best ways to cut healthcare costs is to choose a health plan that’s right for you. Familiarize yourself with what that plan will and won’t cover. You should only pay for the protection you need.
Another way to save costs is to see a specialist within your network. You’ll pay less because of these in-network specialists contract with your insurance company. Otherwise, you’ll pay higher medical fees if you see a specialist outside your plan’s network.
You should also ask your insurance provider if they offer cost-sharing reductions. Cost sharing reductions are discounts that lower the amount you pay for co-payments or deductibles.
2. Save on Generic Prescription Medicine
Ask your doctor about taking generic medications as a way for reducing healthcare costs. Generic medications are copies of more well-known drugs on the market today.
Generic medications have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs. They’re also approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Brand name drugs cost more to help cover the research costs spent to make it.
3. Consider Opening a Health Savings Account (HSA)
A health savings account (HSA) lets you set aside pre-tax dollars to cover qualified medical expenses. “Qualified expenses” include co-payments, deductibles and other medical expenses not covered by health insurance like dental or vision care.
HSA contributions are pre-taxed, which brings your taxable income down. When you withdraw funds to pay for these expenses, you’re never taxed on those withdraws.
4. Understand What Urgent Care and Outpatient Facilities Can Do
Medical emergencies have trained us all to head to the nearest emergency room (ER) when they occur. Unfortunately, these visits aren’t cheap. A recent survey reported that charges for emergency room visits ranged between $700 and $3500.
Urgent care or outpatient facilities can treat those emergencies that might not require you to spend the night in the hospital. Urgent co-pay expenses are also less than ER co-pays. Outpatient clinics can perform minor procedures or surgery and let you go home the same day to avoid hospital overnight fees.
5. Stay Healthy
The ultimate secret on how to lower health care costs is not to have any in the first place. Staying healthy by eating right, exercising and not smoking will reduce your need to visit the doctor to fix more problems. If you stay healthy, you’ll also avoid tests or medications for conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
If you haven’t done so, read your health care plan’s policies from front to back. Familiarize yourself with your plan’s referral network of specialists to avoid paying higher fees for any procedures from outside specialists.
Check out our blog for more life hacks that save you money and show you how to reduce healthcare costs. We’re here to help you live a long and healthier life.