Do you find healthcare costs to be expensive? If so, you may be one of the many people who put off getting the healthcare they need because of the cost.
A Gallup poll found that, in 2022, 38% of people delayed some type of medical care because of the cost. That’s never a wise decision, but it’s often difficult to make any other.
However, there may be some ways to stop wasting money on unnecessary expenses so you can put your health first.
Review your network coverage
One of the most important steps you can take is to use the in-network providers your health insurance plan covers. This alone can reduce some of your out-of-pocket expenses.
Care outside of your network may be much more expensive because your insurance company doesn’t have a working relationship with those providers.
While most policies will cover emergency care received anywhere, you can expect to pay more if you choose a doctor, nurse, urgent care, or hospital outside of your network for other needs.
Use HSAs or FSAs
Utilize the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Both of these programs offer tax benefits, which means they can help reduce the amount you pay in taxes each year.
There are limitations on how much you can put into these accounts each year, and some may offer investment options while others don't.
Compare both types of accounts carefully to determine which is best for your situation. Then use them as a way to reduce your overall costs.
It’s certainly confusing to read through a list of medical bills to determine which are legitimate and which aren’t.
Often, your insurance company receives charges from a range of providers, including those who helped in your case, provided a second opinion, or completed a procedure for you.
When you receive bills for medical care, ask for an itemized list of these costs. If you can't verify their accuracy, you're well within your rights to dispute them.
Use apps to save on prescriptions
Lower the cost of your prescriptions by using tools to help you find the lowest prices available. One of the most well-known options is GoodRx.
Download the app to your phone. Then, when you need to pick up a prescription, use it to help you find savings coupons and other discounts that are often available.
GoodRx states it can save people up to 80% off the costs of their medications. That includes one-time medications and ongoing prescriptions.
Stave off health issues with preventative care
Preventative health care — like seeing your doctor at least one time every year — is often a covered series that you don’t pay extra for besides a copay.
However, going in to see your doctor could mean that you learn of a potential problem or get help with symptoms of an illness before it becomes more complex.
Early treatment of conditions could help you prevent much more drastic health care needs as well as higher costs for emergency care.
Choose who does your lab work
Many people don’t know that they can choose a lab to provide blood tests, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests. But some locations charge hundreds of dollars more for the same types of tests than others.
Look for independent radiology offices and centers instead of in-hospital providers. Interestingly, sometimes the same radiologist will do the procedure if they work at both locations.
Ask about alternative facilities
Just like getting labs done offsite, you may also be able to ask your doctor about alternative facilities that can offer lower prices on the care you need, especially more advanced procedures and surgeries.
You likely won’t need to switch doctors as your current provider may already work with the organization.
If you need shoulder surgery, for example, find out which location can provide you with a lower cost without any reduction in the quality of care.
Use your deductible to the fullest
If the end of the year is approaching, know that your deductible is likely to reset in the next year.
If you can squeeze in prescription refills this year, buy medical supplies, or even a medical procedure you need now, you may not have to pay a new deductible right away next year.
You can do the same for vision and dental care deductibles too.
Many medical providers today are offering telehealth services, which allow you to connect with a medical provider over a video call on your smartphone or laptop.
Many types of care you need can be done in this way and may be less expensive than an in-office visit.
Check with your insurance company to see if this is an option and the costs associated with this often-faster level of care.
Ask about financial assistance plans
Perhaps you know you need a medical appointment, procedure, or surgery. However, you’re unsure whether you can afford the out-of-pocket costs.
Reach out to the hospital or care center to find out if they have financial assistance plans available. Many will have programs that onsite social workers can help you to obtain.
You can also get help from various charitable organizations, such as Copays.org. The National Patient Advocate Foundation has resources to connect you with financial support for services.
Save on medications with mail delivery
Some health insurance companies offer lower medication prices when you opt for mail delivery. It’s also convenient, and you’ll still get the same medication at a lower cost.
And in most cases, a 90-day prescription is less expensive than a 30-day prescription, which will require you to order less often.
Work with health advocates
Many health insurance plans have case managers or health advocates. These are people who advocate for you, helping you to get the most out of your insurance benefit.
This can be particularly helpful when you’re experiencing complex or multiple medical needs at one time.
Carefully consider urgent and emergency care
Before the time comes when you need urgent or emergency medical care, find out which providers are available to you in your area, what the out-of-pocket cost for each is, and which charges less overall.
In cities with multiple providers, it helps to know where the least expensive care is. Try to use urgent care for your medical needs unless it is a true emergency to save money.
Look into discounted services
If you need glasses or contact lenses, find out if you can use your plan where there’s a lower price, like Costco.
Some health insurance plans may have community connections or services with national providers to help patients save money.
Others offer free gym memberships or discounts on everyday medical supplies and over-the-counter medications.
Ask your employer to kick in for HSAs
Even if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, they may be willing to contribute to an HSA for you and your family.
You do not have to use these funds by the end of the year, as they will roll over. Your employer can also take advantage of tax deductions, and costs tend to be lower than traditional health insurance policies.
Ultimately, be sure the health insurance you purchase and pay for meets your needs so you’re not tempted to skip an appointment to save money.
Be sure to let your doctor that you’re looking for ways to save money too. They may offer reduced fees, recommend less expensive treatment options or alternative therapies, and provide generic medication prescriptions.