Overview: Health Care Costs
Rising health care costs have become an increasingly important concern for many Americans. Although Congress has tried to address these concerns with recent legislation (see our recent post about it here), premiums are unlikely to fall soon. Further, other associated costs can drive bills even higher. For the average American, a health crisis has become an expensive prospect. There are ways to take charge of your health care costs, however. We’ve compiled some of our easiest and best tips to help you manage your health care costs so that a crisis doesn’t hit your bank account too hard.
1: Use in Network Providers
One of the ways in which health insurance companies try to keep costs down is the creation of provider networks. These networks are a group of providers who agree to contract with the carrier, and charge set costs for procedures. This way, the carrier is able to ensure that high cost claims are regularly made. By visiting doctors and specialists who are in network, your costs will be lower than if you see an out of network provider. Health insurance plans also offer lower out-of-pocket maximums when visiting an in-network provider. Thus, a little research as to which providers are in-network can save you a lot of money.
2: Keep your Prescription Costs Low
Prescription medications can be one of the most expensive aspects of an individual’s health care costs. However, there are ways to make sure that your prescriptions don’t break the bank. First, it is important to ask your doctor when they write you a prescription if there are generic alternatives. Many doctors will write a prescription for name brand medications. Pharmacies will often have generics available, but the doctor must prescribe it. Next, it is important to shop for pharmacies. The closest pharmacy may not be the best. Others in the area may have different prescriptions at a lower price. Before you fill a prescription, make sure you’re getting the best price you can. Finally, there are many discount programs available. By taking advantage of these, you can see savings of over 10%. Make sure you check with your carrier, provider, and pharmacy to see if such programs exist.
3: Keep up on Preventative Care
One of the easiest ways to keep your health care costs low is to actively practice prevention. Eating healthier, getting regular exercise, and leading a healthy lifestyle can be great contributors in driving health care costs down. Having your doctor run preventive screenings can also be an easy way to catch problems before they become expensive. Many health plans cover preventive services at 100%. Many insurance carriers also incentivize their clients practicing preventive lifestyles. For example, most carriers provide a discount on health insurance premiums if the client works out a gym more than 8 times a month.
4: Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Many people simply take the bills that they have and pay them without question. However, it is often worthwhile to see if you can negotiate a lower price for the services provided. Although not a guarantee, it cannot hurt to try. Further, if you are referred to a specialist that you find out is out of network, contact your insurance carrier and explain the situation. If there are no other options and the specialist is necessary, insurance carriers are often willing to work with you to pay in-network rates. It also helps to have an idea of how much most standard procedures cost. Doing a little research on the websites of major carriers can give you leverage if you need to negotiate.
Hopefully, with these tips in hand, you’ll be able to begin the process of cutting down your medical expenses. It’s not always easy, but as always, we’re here to help. If you have any questions about the health care market, or if you’d like some assistance selecting plans, answering questions, or establishing group or individual coverage, please reach out to us. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 612-492-9320.