The cost of maintaining good health is the last in our series of money saving tips. With ever-increasing health insurance premiums, higher deductibles and sky-rocketing, out-of-pocket medical expenses taking a bigger bite out of the average household budget, a medical emergency can easily turn into a crisis for many Americans. Healthcare costs can quickly add up during a chronic or catastrophic illness with the potential to bring overwhelming debt and the accompanying stress that comes when trying to deal with it.
Here are a few simple ideas to help you rein in the high cost of healthcare and medical expenses:
Tips for Reducing Healthcare Costs
- Take Advantage of Flexible Spending Accounts – If your employer offers a flexible spending, enroll in the program. A flexible spending account (FSA) is a tax-deferred savings account established by your employer to help you meet certain medical and dependent-care expenses that are not covered under your employer’s insurance plan. Maximize your contributions to use pre-tax dollars for insurance deductibles, doctor co-pays and prescriptions.
- Buy Generic Medications – These off-brand medicines are comparable to brand/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use but cost on average 20 percent less than the original version.
- Ask about Ambulatory Services – Outpatient or same-day surgeries eliminate inpatient hospital admissions, reduce the amount of medication that is prescribed, and use a doctor’s time more efficiently. Many surgical procedures can be performed equally well at an outpatient center. Don’t hesitate to ask if it may be right for you.
- Avoid Paying Medical Bills with a Credit Card – You will lose the opportunity to negotiate, if you pay the entire bill with plastic. You may be able to get a portion of the bill reduced.
- Visit Urgent Care and Walk-in Clinics – Seeing a physician in a hospital ER is a costly way to treat routine health issues. Urgent care and walk-in clinics are especially helpful for those who don’t have insurance. Often staffed by nurse practitioners, these clinics are located in select drugstores and groceries locations, often providing lower medical costs, convenient for minor health concerns.
- Negotiate for Lower Bills and Ask About a Payment Plan – Doctors’ offices and hospitals may accept a discounted payment. Offer cash payments to the billing department for leverage.
- Choose an In-Network Physician – Save up to 50%, even before you meet the deductible.
- Shop for a Lower Rate Health Insurance Policy – There are a variety of online (and offline) resources to help you find better health insurance rates. Medicare.gov is a great place to start.
These are just the first steps to help lower your healthcare costs and save money on health and medical expenses. The most helpful way to lower healthcare costs is to live a healthier life by choosing nutritious foods, finding ways to ease the stress of daily life, exercising and having regular checkups.
* Medical expenses causing debt problems? Consider our debt reduction solutions…