We have all heard the horror stories about the high cost of health care. Even with health care reform, the cost of health care coverage continues to keep rising. We all see it in higher premiums, bigger deductibles, larger co-pays, or a combination of all three. There is little that can be done to reverse this trend; however, we can all manage our health care costs by avoiding paying too much. Here are five great tips to help you control your health care costs while still keeping everyone healthy.
1. Reduce Your Health Care Costs With a Tax Break
One of the benefits in most companies is the Flexible Spending Account (FSA). This is the easiest way to begin reducing your health care costs. You choose how much money you may need for routine doctor visits, procedures, and prescription drugs and have that money removed from your paycheck. The money removed from your paycheck is pre-tax dollars saving your anywhere from 10 to 35 percent on your out of pocket expenses. You just submit the medical expenses to the company sponsoring your FSA and you are reimbursed for your health care costs.
2. Negotiate Health Care Costs with Your Provider
Insurance companies are always negotiating for lower rates with doctors, hospitals, and labs. You can negotiate with your doctor if they are not on your health care plan. Many doctors and health care providers are more than willing to negotiate with patients. If your willing to pay up front for their services, that should be enough incentive to help reduce their fees with you.
3. Control the Costs of Your Medications to Reduce Health Care Costs
The prices for prescription drugs have skyrocketed in recent years; however, you can cut those costs. Most prescription coverage is based on a “tiered” system based on generic and brand name drugs. Verify with your insurance carrier which drugs are covered and then talk with your health care provider about generic version that will be less expensive. If you are offered a mail order drug plan, look to see if you can incorporate it into your health care. Many mail order drug plans are half the cost of traditional prescriptions.
4. Beware of Going Out of Network to Reduce Your Health Care Costs
Most families are insured with either a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). These health care plans encourage you to find a doctor or health care provider within their negotiated plan network. However, you may find the need to find a specialist or you need to see someone out of network. Typically, the insurance carrier will cover 70 to 80 percent of the reasonable and customary charges after the deductible has been met.
A way to save costs on out of network services is to find out how much your insurance company will pay for that procedure and then negotiate with the doctor on that cost. By negotiating with the doctor and paying the fee and co-pay up front, you can save substantial money.
5. Check Your Medical Billing Carefully to Reduce Your Health Care Costs
Even when you use an in-network doctor, hospital or lab you could be billed over what the insurance claims as reasonable and customary rates. Many times patients will pay the difference not knowing that they do not owe. The fear of damaging their credit or going to a debt collector has them paying the overage. This is illegal in most states as it is considered balance billing. If you have a balance due on a bill, dispute it with your insurance company. If you don’t get a resolution, contact your state’s Insurance Department for help.