Good old health care. It is an absolute necessity, more so when something goes wrong than when you’re healthy, but that’s another conversation! Ensuring that you have proper health insurance and take care of yourself can save you a lot of money in the long run. While health insurance is designed to ease the financial burden of health care costs, it’s not always foolproof.
Sometimes you will need to shell out your own money on health-related expenses. You can get the most bang for your buck with a little knowledge. Check out some simple ways to save on health costs, so you don’t break the budget for medical needs.
Before we get into ways you can save money on health-related expenses, you’ll want to make sure you are contributing to an FSA or HSA, if that is an option. Both of these accounts allow you to put pre-tax funds into them to spend on health-related costs. Take advantage if you can. They typically are available with specific health insurance plans. Read Health Benefits Basics for more details.
Ways to save on health costs
#1 Do your research
Long gone are the days of visiting your doctor for every little thing. There are plenty of stores that offer a variety of services at low costs. Walgreens and CVS offer complimentary or very cheap flu shots. Target does eye exams. Local fairs may give complementary screenings and shots. The point is that there are plenty of affordable health care options out there, you simply need to do your research.
#2 Shop around for medication
Just like you aren’t limited in where you can go for medical services, you aren’t limited in where you can go for your prescriptions. Not all pharmacies charge the same for a particular prescription. You could be saving a lot of money by being knowledgeable about normal prescription costs, searching for coupons, and comparing pharmacies. GoodRX is a great resource for pinpointing the lowest-priced prescriptions, so you can save a little more money.
#3 Ask for prices upfront
I love this tip from Disease Called Debt, “You should call your doctor or hospital if you want to know the price of a certain procedure upfront. Moreover, some hospitals will give you a discount if you choose to pay in cash. All you have to do is ask whether the discounts are available before paying with a credit card.”
Not only can you save money by asking for prices and discounts up front, but you can plan your budget accordingly. Instead of waiting until you get the bill to see what you owe, be proactive and ask before your visit. If the cost is too high for this month, even with the discount, at least you can postpone the visit until a more financially appropriate time.
#4 Always review your bills and statements
Anytime you receive a medical bill or doctor’s visit statement, review it with a fine-tooth comb. Make sure there are no added fees or expenses. Also, keep an eye out for what amount was covered by your insurance company. If the amount seems too low, or is $0, pulse check with your insurance company. Get an understanding of why the specific cost wasn’t covered, and make sure you know for next time.
#5 Understand your current medical coverage
Did you know that by law, Affordable Care Act- compliant insurance plans offer a variety of different screenings without co-pay requirements from the insured. This means you can get specific doctor visits covered by your insurance plan. You will want to make sure you understand everything that is included in your medical insurance plan. You may be surprised at some of the services and treatments that are covered. Read 4 Surprising Expenses Insurance May Cover for additional ideas.
In addition to understanding your insurance plan, do your research to confirm if your employer offers any medical or health benefits to employees. Some companies may provide free therapy sessions, contribute to an HRA or FSA on your behalf, or offer many other forms of health care savings.
Related: 7 Things You Can Buy with an HSA
Keeping yourself healthy can save you a lot of money, but if you do need to put your money towards health-related expenses, make sure they are cost-efficient ones! Be smart about your medical costs, and don’t forget to budget in medical expenses if they are recurring. Do you have any hacks or tips for saving money on health costs? Do you contribute to an FSA or HSA? Post a comment below to share your tips and tricks with other CGS readers!