Mention the term health care and you’re likely to get a variety of responses. Regardless of your political leanings, one thing is for certain – health care is an expensive necessity in today’s economic climate.
According to Statistic Brain, we spend about $ 10,000 per person on health care costs every year. The good news is that there are ways to reduce those costs if we are purposeful about it. Cutting costs becomes even more important considering smart spending now, on preventative measures, for example, can cut costs down the road, too. Here are some ideas for keeping your own health care costs down:
1. Take advantage of tax savings.
One of the best ways to save on health care costs comes in the form of a flexible spending account or a health savings account. While each have differences which make them unique, the fact remains that both are tax-advantaged accounts which allow you to put aside funds for health care needs.
The added benefit is that in many cases your employer may offer matching funds, up to a certain amount, that would go directly into your account. Ultimately, using either the FSA or HSA option should help you from a tax perspective as well as help you think more like a consumer when it comes to your health care spending.
2. Try cheaper facilities.
One thing many people don’t realize is a fair number of doctors operate at several facilities. How this fact can save you money is the charge assessed by the given facility. The fee to see your doctor will stay the same regardless of where you see him, but the charge assessed by the facility can vary quite a bit.
If that’s not an option for you, consider other ways to see a doctor. Many grocery stores offer in-store clinics manned by a doctor or nurse. Assuming you’re needing to see a doctor for something relatively common, this method can be a great way to save money as it’s considerably less than the cost of going to the doctor’s office.
3. Get a prescription for over-the-counter drugs.
One drawback to the FSA or HSA options is that you can no longer use the funds to purchase over-the-counter drugs. There is a way around this, though, if you’re able to get a prescription from your doctor for things like pain relievers and allergy medication.
If you use them regularly, this approach can be a great way to get the same medication at a lower price as opposed to paying for the over-the-counter brand name alternative. Just remember to ask for the prescription to be similar to what you’re currently taking to avoid any negative impacts.
4. Get free money.
With the advent of more high-deductible health plans, more employers are offering incentives to employees that can result in free money for you. This varies by employer, of course, but usually is in the form of taking a health care assessment in exchange for a certain amount to be put in your HSA.
Some employers also offer free or low-cost weight loss or smoking cessation programs. These programs have the dual benefit of helping your employer save on their costs plus giving you the chance to get in better health.
5. Get a cash discount.
If you’ve dealt with health insurance much then you know what a hassle it can be at times. It can be the same, if not worse, for a doctor’s office. How this can help you is by asking for a cash discount. Not every doctor will offer this but it is well worth asking for, especially if you’ve not met your deductible yet for the year. Simply offer to pay cash and the doctor might take a certain percentage off the price of the overall bill – just make sure they’re basing it off your insurance’s pre-agreed upon rate. If this isn’t an option, consider asking for a discount for paying for the entire bill all at once. Again, this may not always work, but can be well worth a simple ask.
Health care costs can get out of hand, but with a little creative thinking, there are ways to save money without sacrificing care.