It’s safe to say that our health is one of the most important things we should prioritize in our lives, as our health has a huge effect on our quality of life. However, the cost of healthcare provides a major barrier for many Americans making it difficult for them to adequately manage their healthcare needs. According to a 2020 study conducted by CNBC, about 30% of all Americans1 expressed worry about being able to afford healthcare, with about 22% of people saying the cost of healthcare caused them to delay getting care. Read on to learn about some ways you can save on these costs and make it a little easier to manage your health expenditures.
One of the first steps you can take towards mitigating the cost of healthcare is by being sure to choose the insurance plan that is best for your needs. Health insurance comes in many forms, with different levels of coverage, and at different price points. When selecting your plan, you should carefully consider the level of medical care you anticipate you’ll need and take time to compare the available plans to see which one will be the best fit. If you normally need basic, preventative care, you may be able to get a lower cost plan that provides minimum coverage. On the other hand, if you need a higher level of care, it may be worth it to pay more for a plan that will have more extensive coverage. Consequently, choosing the wrong plan could cost you more in the long run. If you need a higher level of care but choose the lower care plan you could end up being required to pay more in out-of-pocket expenses. If you’re unsure of which plan is best for you, try contacting your HR department to see if they have a contact that can help you make the right choice. While many people obtain health insurance through their employer, not everyone has this option. However, this does not mean you don’t have access to health insurance. Depending on your age and/or income level, you may qualify for health insurance through your state or the federal government with either Medicaid or Medicare. Another option you have is to purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. With this option, based on your income level, you may qualify for premium tax credits2 that will lower the cost of your plan.
Do Your Research
With any insurance plan there are in-network providers and out-of-network providers. When a doctor, hospital, or other medical provider is in-network, it means they have a contract to work with your insurance company, while on the other hand, an out-of-network provider does not. Insurance companies usually cover more of the cost of an in-network provider than they do an out-of-network provider, so being sure to choose an in-network provider can save you more money on your healthcare costs. Before going to see a doctor or healthcare provider, do some research to make sure they are in-network. If there’s a specific healthcare provider you’d like to see, they can usually tell you if they accept your insurance or not. Also, if you visit your insurance company’s website, they often have a search function where you can find in-network providers.
Even after following the tips listed above, you may still have times where the cost of healthcare is more than you can afford. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have options available to help. Many healthcare providers recognize the high cost of healthcare and offer financial aid to their eligible patients to help lower this cost. Ask your doctors office if they have any programs available you can apply for. You may qualify to have a portion of your balance waived or to set up a payment plan to help split up the cost.
Healthcare services do not always cost the same everywhere you go. Just like most things you purchase, the cost of healthcare services with one provider may be vastly different than the cost of the same service elsewhere. If you have a procedure or surgery you need to schedule, you can call hospitals and doctors’ offices3 ahead of time and ask how much they charge. This will help you find the lowest-cost option and ensure you aren’t paying more than you need to.
1Carroll, Linda. (2020, Feb 27). Retrieved from: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/1-3-americans-worry-about-being-able-afford-health-care-n1144426
2Healthcare.gov. Retrieved from: https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/premium-tax-credit/
3Schencker, Lisa. (2018, Jul 20). Retrieved from: https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-hospital-price-transparency-0722-story.html