After rent or mortgage payments, the next largest monthly expense is often health insurance. The average American pays $321 every single month for their healthcare plan or $700+ for a family plan. While these insurance plans are much needed to keep your health in check, we’ve compiled a list of ways that you can trim your healthcare expenses one step at a time.
1. Contribute to a HSA
If your health insurance plan has high-deductibles you might be eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA). Similar to a 401(k), a HSA is funded with pre-tax contributions. This means that whenever you need to visit the doctor or pay for a subscription you won’t need to pay tax.
The funds in your HSA will never deplete, so this is also a perfect health plan for your retirement. By making payments to your HSA through your entire working life, you could build up a huge balance – tax-free. Also, if you aren’t sickly person you’d be able to save the majority of the fund for your retirement. But, if you need to visit the doctor in the near future, your HSA will leave your bill tax-free, too.
2. Join a Health-Sharing Ministry
Another way to cut the costs of healthcare insurance is to join a health-sharing ministry. Despite leaving you technically uninsured, this type of plan is actually exempt from paying Affordable Care Act penalties for not having an insurance plan.
These plans are quite similar to normal healthcare insurance except they are Christian-based. However, some plans won’t cover things like birth control, depending on the views of the church. A health-sharing ministry is more affordable than regular insurance though, as medical bills are shared by the community instead of paid by a single person.
When you visit the doctor, get a bill for a self-pay rate instead of a usual insurance rate. Self-pay is often lower than what insurance companies are billed, and these savings benefit the whole church group.
3. Ask for Cash Discounts
There is a kind-of loophole that you can try next time you visit the doctor, dentist, or eye doctor. Instead of offering up your insurance information when you go to pay, ask the surgery if they offer any type of cash discount. It’s actually more common than you might think, as these surgeries won’t need to deal with insurance companies or file excessive paperwork. It can save time for them, and money for you.
And, if they don’t offer a cash discount just present your insurance plan as usual. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so it’s definitely worth a try.
4. Visit an Urgent Care Clinic First
Recently more and more Urgent Care Clinics are popping up across America. You might’ve even seen a few open in your town. If so, visiting one of these can be much cheaper than taking a trip to the doctor or emergency room every time you are ill or hurt.
You could actually save hundreds of dollars by choosing to visit an Urgent Care Clinic instead, as long as it’s a non-life-threatening illness or emergency that you are having. Another perk is the waiting times, on average patients only wait around 15 minutes to be seen. Whereas at emergency rooms, critical patients are attended to first, which results in long waiting times for those who aren’t critically injured.
5. Talk to an Online Medical Professional
Don’t simply type your symptoms into Google, that never works for anybody. But one way that the internet can help you is that you can video conference with an online doctor or nurse. These types of online consultations are great for lesser illnesses and injuries. If for example, your child has caught a cold you can get expert advice online or via telephone instead of spending half of your morning (and a lot of money) at the doctors.
Staying at home is a good way to avoid spreading germs or picking up new ones from the local clinic. Not to mention the time and money you’ll save. Usually, you can get online or phone consolations for free or at a discount with your health plan.
6. Only Schedule Necessary Appointments and Procedures
From appointments at the doctors to filling prescriptions, healthcare isn’t cheap. And your healthcare plan will only pay for a portion of each expense. So, the best way to save money is to only visit the doctors when it’s necessary. Even though Urgent Care Clinics and video conferences with doctors are cheaper, they still aren’t free.
For example, it’ll save you heaps to choose a monthly follow-up visit instead of a bi-weekly one. Additionally, you might want to wait until next year to go through with a procedure if your health benefits have already reached their limit for the year.
7. Order Prescriptions from Blink
Most people think that prescriptions cost one price – the one the pharmacy sells them for. But did you know that you can save lots of money by ordering them online? By using Blink Health, you can take advantage of pre-negotiated prices and you might not have to even change pharmacies to do so.
You can collect your Blink prescriptions at 57,000 locations across the US. Many stores like Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid work with Blink Health. This service stocks more than 15,000 different medications, too. You don’t have to pay a membership to use Blink, and according to its website, you can save up to 95%.
8. Choose a Higher Deductible
If your healthcare plan includes the option of choosing a higher deductible, it might be worth it for you to do this. Having a higher deductible will lower your monthly insurance payment. If your plan allows it, you could switch from a $5,000 annual deductible to a $10,000 one.
If you and your family are healthy and don’t often make trips to the doctor this can benefit you greatly. A lower monthly premium can really make room for some extra cash flow that you can put into your savings accounts or use to pay back debts. And, the combination of lower monthly payments paired with a high deductible is often cheaper than the reverse situation.
9. Take Advantage of Corporate Wellness Incentives
Some companies now offer work benefits that reach beyond healthcare. Various employers are encouraging wellness among their staff by rewarding healthy behaviors and preventative care. Examples include cash bonuses for getting an annual physical etc.
There are also other benefits like FitBit device that your job will get you to use track how many steps you take a day or promote your other fitness goals. By reaching certain goals you can get more prizes or cash, so why not take advantage of the corporate wellness incentives at your job?
10. Review Your Statements for Coding Errors
From time to time everyone makes mistakes, and this includes insurance companies and hospitals. We are all human after all, so by making sure you review your statements before sending off payments you can save money.
If you think that you’ve been overbilled on a recent hospital visit, and it does happen, you might be entitled to a discount. Before paying, call the insurance company to try to correct the bill. If you’re in the right, the decision will be reversed.
Hopefully, you can use these tips to make some smart savings on the cost of your healthcare. Sometimes even the smallest of savings can help, so next time you fall ill consult this list so you won’t be out of pocket, too.
This article is provided by ImproveBudget. ImproveBudget is a SeniorDiscountsClub content partner offering advice and tips on how to save and make extra money. Read the original article on ImproveBudget. Copyright 2018.