Smart Ways To Reduce Your Healthcare Costs This Year

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Expensive health insurance programs can place a huge financial burden on your shoulder. But cutting your healthcare costs and saving money on medical bills is possible. In this time of heightened economic turmoil, few firms can afford health coverage; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates just 57% of employees at firms with 100 workers or less find coverage in employer-sponsored programs. Affordable healthcare is a top priority for budget-conscious individuals, and here are some smart tips to help you lower your healthcare costs this year.


  • Shop around and compare medication prices


One way to reduce your healthcare costs this year is to choose your medications smartly. Avoid the tendency to pay outright for every drug you seek in a pharmacy. Instead, it helps to always shop around as medication prices can vary widely from one pharmacy to another. You can leverage helpful tools like SingleCare and GoodRx price comparison platforms to find the most affordable medications.


  • Ask for alternative medications


If a certain prescription drug is far out of budget, consider asking your doctor or pharmacist for over-the-counter alternatives. They can recommend an effective OTC drug alternative to treat your symptoms for less money. And to further trim your prescription drug costs, you will also want to order your medication supply in a 90-day format instead of choosing the one-month option. Studies show you can lower out-of-pocket costs by 30% if you opt for a 90-day supply vs. 30 days.


  • Report billing errors for review


Perhaps, you have been overcharged by a hospital’s bills department for no reason. That happens sometimes because of human error. Indeed, most medical bills are inaccurate, according to the Medliminal organization. Have an eye for detail when a healthcare facility is billing you. Identify billing errors and ask for a review to ensure you are not overpaying for your drugs.


  • Open a health savings account


Creating a health savings account is ideal when you have a high-deductible healthcare plan. This will allow you to save costs on items your plan typically doesn’t cover. The funds you/your employer contribute to the health savings account are tax-free; the same applies to withdrawal (relating to medical expenses).


  • Take your health matters seriously


Ensuring you stay fit all-year round is your best bet to avoid expensive healthcare costs. When you prioritize your health matters seriously, you can reduce your risks of getting diseases. Check your weight and exercise regularly while avoiding risky lifestyles that could endanger your health. Not smoking and moderate drinking greatly reduce your risks of developing health problems. Diabetes and heart diseases often come with expensive treatment costs, so choose to live a healthy lifestyle. 


  • Choose an appropriate health plan


When signing up for health insurance programs, factor in your needs and your family’s. Choosing a higher premium plan implies covering most of your health costs. This could be a money-saving trick for people needing regular care, such as cardiac patients and people with diabetes. In case you don’t require regular medical care, it may be smarter to subscribe to a plan with a higher deductible. That way, you will pay less premium and save more money in the long run, so keep this in mind. If you have group health insurance through work, make sure you understand what it does cover.


  • Seek urgent and emergency care


When you sustain an injury or suffer an illness, first assess the gravity of the situation and how critical it’s to get medical attention. Depending on your problem, you may seek immediate care from a clinic and call your provider. Emergency care is required for cases like breathing difficulty, severe pain, and bleeding. Urgent care should be sought when waiting the next day to see your provider is not advisable. Examples of such cases may include issues like dog bites and bladder infections.


  • Make good use of your benefits and go for routine checkups


Prevention is better than cure, so don’t forget to undergo routine health screening. Your healthcare costs will be reduced if your doctors diagnose your condition and prescribe early treatment. Waiting any longer with a serious condition can inflate your healthcare costs. You will save life, time, and money if you seek immediate medical attention. You may not have to pay a dime for annual health screenings and vaccines, depending on your benefits. Pregnant women can get prenatal care at little to no cost. Talk to your health advocate to gain a better understanding of your benefits and how to exploit their usefulness. In managing complex conditions like diabetes and asthma, consulting a case manager is useful. Ensure you use discounted services that are part of your health plans, such as gym subscriptions and eyewear.


  • Embrace direct primary care


More primary care physicians are now working with employers to offer cost-effective and preventative care monthly (direct care). Those who want to minimize their healthcare expenses will also want to explore these options. Rather than billing patients’ insurance companies or Medicare, direct primary care providers charge you a fixed monthly fee for limitless access to their doctors. Direct care is quite affordable compared to concierge practices, with some sources quoting figures less than $1000 per person annually. When combined with a high-deductible health plan, direct primary care can be a convenient and relatively affordable option for small firms and enterprises. 


  • Explore health care–sharing opportunities


You could benefit from health care-sharing programs if you belong to a religious community. The Affordable Care Act exempts members of recognized health care sharing ministries from penalties if they don’t meet the minimum essential coverage. According to CMS, members of these religious organizations may share medical expenses according to their beliefs. Small and medium-sized employers may have health ministry and insurance benefits, says benefit planning expert John Beidle of St. Louis, Missouri. Your employer can reimburse you for membership fees that your health ministry may charge. That said, you may have to get assistance from a tax-savvy person since this process can be complicated.


  • Seek cover for your college students


If you have a child currently in college, they may be able to access a very affordable health plan via their school. Ensure you encourage your child to seek plans for college students to reduce their healthcare costs. Some colleges design health insurance plans for students over 26 with sufficient financial aid to pay for basic coverage. The Affordable Care Act also allows students who don’t reside in the same states as their parents to fill out their insurance applications with their parents benefitting from premium tax credits.


  • Convert to individual plans


The average annual premium for family health insurance is $16,000, reports the Kaiser Family Foundation. Group insurance plans can become expensive even to employers, so consider converting to your personal plan. If the average member contributes about $5000 yearly toward family health care obtained via the employer, such an employee would be better off converting to their individual plan through the exchanges offered by the Affordable Care Act. Companies with fewer than 50 employees may invest funds to buy individual plans over group ones, so keep this in mind.


  • Negotiate your insurance premiums


Many individuals, including small business owners, don’t understand they have the power to negotiate down their insurance premiums. This is particularly true for employee spaces with workforces in the range of 50 to 99. Health insurance companies may cite several reasons to justify higher premiums for small firms. They often argue that people are getting older, and they are witnessing many claims. However, if you work with a good broker (negotiator), they can counter these excuses by pointing out other factors that make insurers need to lower their premiums.


You can ask for a discount, especially if you are going for a procedure or healthcare treatment service offered by different providers in your locality. For example, those who enjoy receiving Botox or other cosmetic procedures may want to check if discounts are available at their next consultation with their Botox physician or cosmetic surgeon.


  • Try to pay with cash


It’s worth noting that some healthcare centers pull impressive yearly incomes while their offices are low on cash. Medical facilities frequently reduce bills for cash-paying patients because it eliminates the inconvenience of credit cards and transaction fees. Therefore, you can consider paying in cash if possible. However, if you are financially limited while in the hospital with a mild condition, sometimes you can get away by ignoring unnecessary medical tests (lab procedures).


  • Get your drugs by mail


You may find affordable prescription medicines at warehouse club stores, such as Sam’s Club, without being a member. Several big retail chain stores offer discounts on popular generic drugs (without health insurance). Consult your doctor to see if they can recommend trusted mail-order pharmacies in your locality.


It’s easier to obtain a discount if you ask for it. Looking at the world’s fast-growing healthcare industry, meeting consumer demands is paramount to any business. And one way to lower your medical bills is to appeal for discounts wherever you go. Now is the time to restructure your healthcare expenses to ensure you are spending wisely for your well-being,