Health care in America is expensive, from copays and doctor’s visits to the cost of prescription medications. The average American spends more than $10,000 per year on health insurance and medical-related expenses, and that figure is expected to skyrocket in the next two years. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare spending per person in the United States is expected to exceed $14,944 by 2023. This means that a family of four will have to spend nearly $60,000 to cover their most basic healthcare needs. The average American will spend $15,000 per year on their own health care by 2023. Here are seven cost-cutting strategies.
The good news is there are ways to reduce your medical costs. Here are seven ways to reduce your healthcare costs, ranging from FSAs and HSAs to in-network coverage and mail-order medications.
Save Money On Medications
There are a few ways to save money and cut costs when it comes to medication. Generic prescriptions, for example, are typically less expensive than brand-name counterparts, despite the fact that they contain the same active ingredient (s). There may also be over-the-counter alternatives. You can take four store-brand ibuprofen tablets for the same dosage as prescription ibuprofen and for a lot less money. Mail-ordering your medication can also help you save money; they usually provide you with a 90-day supply.
Take Preventive Actions to Take Care Of Your Health
Preventive care cannot be overstated in its importance. It not only benefits your health (and may even increase your lifespan! ), but it also saves you money. The sooner you see a doctor have a problem or condition identified and diagnosed, the better (and less expensive) your treatment options may be. However, preventative care is more than just routine check-ups and health screenings; it also includes things you can do for yourself to reduce long-term care costs, such as eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, and limiting harmful substances like alcohol. Preventive healthcare is critical to staying healthy in mind, body, and wallet.
Make Frequent Use of Your Benefits
This may seem obvious, but you can and should take advantage of your healthcare benefits whenever possible. Get regular check-ups and health screenings because these appointments can detect health issues early, when they may be more easily treated. If you are pregnant, you should seek prenatal care. If possible, stay in-network and use supplemental services; many health plans offer discounts on gym memberships, nutrition programs, dental care, and eyewear.
Consider a High Deductible Strategy
High-deductible healthcare plans are not suitable for everyone. After all, they require you to pay a significant amount of money out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. This means that these plans aren’t ideal for people who have chronic or pre-existing conditions; if this describes you, they could be harmful to your finances and set you back. However, if you are young and relatively healthy and only see your doctor once or twice a year, this option can save you a lot of money. Just make sure you have enough cash on hand to cover the deductible if you do require extensive care.
Use Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Many companies provide HSAs and FSAs. These “savings” accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax funds for healthcare expenses, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per year. HSAs and FSAs, on the other hand, are two very different programs, and while the latter is beneficial to those with ongoing health care expenses (copays, prescriptions, etc.), not everyone can or should have health spending account. HSAs are only available to people who have high-deductible health insurance plans.
Speak with your employer and/or your insurance provider to learn more about HSAs and FSAs. You can also open an HSA on your own, whereas FSAs are only available through your employer.
Think About Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs)
The ICHRA, or individual coverage health reimbursement arrangement, is a (relatively) new type of health coverage. But what exactly is an ICHRA? Individual coverage reimbursement arrangements, in short, are distinct health insurance policies that assist you in covering the cost of medical-related expenses and care in a personalized manner. IRAs are not group insurance policies. Rather, ICHRAs empower employees by allowing them to choose a healthcare package that meets their specific needs. While these plans are payroll and income tax-free deductions, their viability is dependent on your wants and needs. ICHRAs, on the other hand, have the potential to save employees money in a variety of ways. Speak with your human resource director or go to HealthCare.gov for more information on ICHRAs.
Inquire about discounts and/or need-based assistance.
Finally, while asking for a discount may seem strange, especially when it comes to health insurance and/or health care, exceptions and exemptions are made. Therapists, for example, frequently charge on a sliding scale. This means that the amount you pay per session is determined by your financial ability and/or needs. When necessary, some pharmacies provide prescriptions at a reduced cost, and dental discount plans are also available.
Unexpected medical expenses can also be challenged. When my father died in 1996, nine days before his insurance kicked in, the hospital waived the majority of his medical bills. Debts totaling tens of thousands of dollars were effectively forgiven and erased. The point is, if all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek assistance. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.