5 Ways to Save on Out of Pocket Health Care Costs
It’s no secret that health care costs have been on the rise and show no signs of slowing down. Even when you have insurance, the out-of-pocket costs associated with an illness, injury or hospital stay can create financial hardship for individuals and families alike. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to lower out-of-pocket health care costs to a manageable level.
Be Ready for Your Deductible — If your insurance plan includes a Health Savings Account (HSA), be sure to keep enough in the account to cover the cost of your deductible. In some cases, deductibles can run $3,000 or more. That’s a lot of money to have to cover unexpectedly. Having that money saved in an HSA provides peace of mind. Plus, it’s not taxed and your HSA balance accrues interest, so you’re winning on several fronts. If you don’t have an HSA, make it your goal to have enough emergency savings to cover deductible costs.
Avoid Duplicate Care — If you’re seeing specialists along with a primary care physician, you may run into instances where they are recommending the same tests or treatments. If you find that happening, speak up and let the provider know. For example, results of blood tests, X-rays, and MRIs can be shared between offices, which will save you the expense of having them done repeatedly.
Request Generic Prescriptions — There is huge savings potential here. You know all those commercials and pop-up ads you see for prescription drugs? Those marketing costs are built into the costs of the prescription. Going generic whenever possible can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year depending on your prescription needs. Whether it’s an antibiotic you need once or a medication to manage a chronic condition, always ask the pharmacist if there’s a generic option available.
Use Resources Wisely — It used to be you had two choices when you got sick or injured: make a doctor’s appointment or go to the emergency room. Now, there are a lot more options. In some cases, going to an urgent care facility is a more cost-effective option than heading straight to the ER. Many insurance plans also offer a 24-hour ‘ask a nurse’ hotline that allows you to speak directly to a registered nurse who will evaluate your symptoms and offer home-care advice or instruct you to seek further treatment. Of course, in cases of life-threatening emergencies, always call 911 and get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Practice Preventive Care — Your health is in your hands. Doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or delay certain health conditions. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, staying well hydrated, getting moderate exercise and avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, can all contribute to your well-being and keep you out of the doctor’s office.