With open enrollment now underway through the Health Insurance Marketplace, it is an opportune time to take a look at how much you have spent, are spending and are going to spend on healthcare costs. Registration on HealthCare.gov began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15 for coverage in 2017. Whether you elect to participate in Health Insurance Marketplace or work with a private provider, there are several ways lower your medical expenses.
FSAs and HSAs
Setting up a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account is the No. 1 way to save at the doctor’s office – and beyond. After setting up an account, you can deposit pre-tax dollars into it, solely to be used for healthcare, and get a break from the IRS when filing your taxes. The money can be used for medical bills and prescriptions, as well as over-the-counter medications and several health and personal-care items found in drug stores. According to Alegeus, a corporate-benefits provider, consumers can stretch their funds by as much as 30 percent if they opt for FSAs or HSAs.
Many mobile apps, card member programs, and websites offer and array of discounts on the ever-increasing cost of drugs. Blink Health, GoodRx and ScriptRelief are among them. By buying drugs in bulk, they can negotiate a lower price and pass the savings on to patients. All you need to do is Google “discount drug card” and browse a plethora of results that even let you print your own card from home. Additionally, online pharmacies and membership-only retailers will have noticeably reduced prices than their counterparts.
Use your resources and tools to compare the costs of medications because there almost always is a way to obtain them cheaper. This is especially important when it comes to brand-name vs. generic drugs (with the latter will be less pricy and in most cases, just as effective). A Consumer Reports investigation into certain types of drugs revealed that prices varied from lows of $20 for prescriptions of the generic versions to highs of $250 for the brand-name equivalent.
Procedures are perhaps the most-expensive aspect of healthcare. Surgeries, hospital stays and therapy can cause a family to go deep into debt. Ask your doctor about alternatives or get second opinion before locking yourself into a procedure unless, of course, it is an emergency. If you are having trouble paying an existing medical bill, the solution is to negotiate. Utilize services like Copatient.com that can help simplify the medical billing process and negotiate with providers.