How to Save Money on Healthcare
Tired of medical bills costing a fortune? Here’s how you can spend less on all things health-related.
Healthcare is a major burden for Americans of all ages. From health insurance premiums to doctor and emergency room visits to prescription costs, the price of medical care has skyrocketed over the years, and workers and retirees alike are feeling the pain. Case in point: A good 25% of U.S. adults struggle to pay their medical bills, and medical debt is the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the country.
If your goal is to save money on healthcare, then you’ll want to attack the problem from multiple angles. Here’s how.
1. Shop around for better insurance
When it comes to health coverage, you tend to get what you pay for. Now, if you’re the type who rarely gets sick, it often pays to buy a plan with a lower monthly premium and higher deductible. But if you tend to use your insurance a lot, a lower deductible might be the way to go. There’s also the coverage itself to consider. Paying a little more money in premium costs could buy you a superior range of coverage, which could then end up saving you on out-of-pocket expenses during the year.
It’s helpful to shop around for insurance, especially if you’re buying it yourself on the open market, because there may be a plan out there that better suits your needs and lowers your total costs. The same holds true if your employer offers a plan with multiple tiers. Either way, don’t assume that cheaper is better when it comes to health insurance, because less expensive plans often cost you in other ways.
2. Lower your prescription costs
If you take prescription drugs, you may have some options for keeping their costs to a minimum. For one thing, always ask your provider to prescribe a generic. An estimated 90% of generic drug copays cost less than $20, compared to just 39% of brand-name copays. Furthermore, if it’s a drug you take regularly, see about ordering 90-day supplies as opposed to renewing your prescription in 30-day increments. Some plans offer a huge discount for ordering pills in bulk.
3. Examine your medical bills
Medical offices aren’t perfect, and sometimes all it takes is an improper procedure code for you to get stuck with a healthcare bill that’s higher than it needs to be. That’s why it’s crucial to review all health-related charges you receive prior to paying your bills. Along these lines, if your insurance company refuses to pay for a service it’s covered before, it’s always smart to follow up and ask why. Often, claims get rejected due to improper coding, so do a little digging before busting out your checkbook.
4. Understand your health benefits
It’s estimated that only 52% of workers really understand their health benefits. If you have questions about what your plan does and doesn’t cover, dial the number on the back of your insurance card and ask someone — that’s what those representatives are there for.
Imagine you need a procedure that requires preauthorization. If you fail to take that step and go forward with it, you might wind up with a sizable bill. Similarly, if you accidentally see a provider who is considered out of network, you could end up paying far more for that service than you would for an in-network provider. Spending some time to review your benefits could save you a bundle, so it’s a worthwhile investment.