Americans spend a surprisingly high amount of money on health care. In 2018, for example, the cost of health care was estimated at $3.65 trillion, which translates to about $11,000 per person. With cost rising each year, it is only natural for ordinary Americans to look for ways to save money on health care.
If you’re looking for practical strategies to lower health care costs, then you have come to the right page. So how do you go about it? Well, here are six smart tips to steer you in the right direction.
1. Take Advantage of Free Preventive Health Services
Routine check-ups and screenings are highly recommended because they help catch health issues early enough to address them. The preventive health care statistics show that approximately 80 percent of Americans have health coverage, but about 25 percent never go for regular check-ups.
Some people still don’t realize that the treatment success rate for diseases detected in the early stages is significantly high. If you do a preventive care cost-benefit analysis, you’ll be amazed at how much you could save on health care expenses over time. Screenings put you in a better position to avoid costly medical services associated with advanced health conditions.
What’s even better: you may not need to pay for the regular screenings, check-ups, and counseling services to stay on top of your health. Many health care plans found on the Health Insurance Marketplace provide free preventative services. It is best to take advantage of these services to reduce your family’s risk of various health problems.
2. Choose the Right Health Insurance Plan
Since health insurance typically comes with a long-term financial commitment, you will want to shop around for affordable coverage that provides the services you need. Many people looking for ways on how to save on health insurance think the trick is to choose health plans with low premiums. Unfortunately, such insurance options might not be right for you.
It is advisable to compare the estimated yearly costs of your health plan, rather than the monthly premiums. And in line with that, consider the copayments, coinsurance payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket payments.
If you’re prone to getting sick or have health issues that require regular medical attention, your best bet is to pick an insurance plan with good coverage and low out-of-pocket costs. Even though you will likely pay higher premiums, this type of health insurance can take a huge financial burden off your shoulders in the longer run.
People who rarely see the doctor should explore health insurance options with high-deductibles to save money on monthly premiums. But if something unexpected happens, be prepared to take care of a significant amount of your medical costs. Just weigh your options and see which plan best fits your financial situation and health care needs.
3. Request Generic Drugs
Did you know that generic drugs are about 85 percent cheaper than brand name drugs? While not all drugs have generic versions, the most popular medicines that were initially expensive are available generically after a certain amount of time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure that generic drugs have the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) that provide the same clinical benefits and strengths as the brand name versions.
Let’s give an example. A 30-day supply of Lipitor, a drug used to lower bad cholesterol and fats, costs about $390. If you were to buy its generic version atorvastatin, you would pay around $10. The generic type 2 diabetes drugs like metformin are also very affordable, lowering your health care costs significantly.
Be sure to speak with your doctor and let him or her know that you prefer generic drugs. If the medicines are available generically, the health care provider will surely agree with your decision to make the switch.
4. Use a Health Savings Account (HSA)
Opening a health savings account is one of the most practical ways to save money on health care. However, only those with high deductible plans (HDHP) qualify to have an HSA. While an HDHP typically requires lower premiums, the out-of-pocket health care expenses are high before you start receiving plan benefits.
An HSA is a tax-favored savings account. The untaxed money saved in a health savings account is used to pay your deductibles, copayments and other qualified medical expenses.
If, at the end of the year, there is unused money in your HSA, it will not be subject to forfeiture like in the case of a Flexible Spending Account. Instead, it will be rolled over and continue earning interest tax-free.
5. Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle
The best reward you can give your body is undoubtedly keeping it healthy. When you make healthier food choices and exercise regularly, you can prevent a wide range of health problems and save your health. A change in lifestyle choices like smoking and getting enough sleep every day can also make a whole lot of difference in your health. You will need fewer visits to the doctor, and this can only mean lower health care costs.
6. Pick the Right Healthcare Provider and Facility
The cost of treatment varies depending on the health care provider and facility you choose. Doctors or facilities that fall in the in-network category will usually have a contracted relationship with your health plan to accept a discounted rate for treatment services offered. Out-of-network health care providers, on the other hand, tend to charge high fees. You may be required to pay the full price or the difference in the bill.
If the provider you choose is part of the health care network associated with your plan, then you could save on health care. It is also a smart idea to consult your provider about the available outpatient facility options. Consider getting treated at an outpatient clinic because you are likely to pay significantly less than in a hospital.
While health care costs are unavoidable, you can do something to cut down on your medical expenses. Creating a plan to lower health care costs might be challenging for many people, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. With the tips above, it is fair to say you’re on the right path.