The Ultimate Guide To Mitigating The Cost Of Healthcare

For countless people in the western world, healthcare represents a significant, recurring cost. When an illness or injury strikes out of the blue, and we have to cover some pretty expensive treatment, it can leave a massive dent in our finances which can have a serious impact on our future financial planning. Still, your health isn’t exactly something you can choose to ignore or penny-pinch on! You may not be aware of it, but there are many ways that someone trying to make their money go further can save on medical costs, and still maintain great physical health. Here’s a list of some of the best tips I can offer.

Shop Around for the Best Plan

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As with a lot of other things, when it comes to medical insurance, sometimes the best way to cut down costs is simply shopping around for the best possible plan. Like many, you may have gone to the same insurer time and time again, maybe because it was recommended once by a relative or friend. You shouldn’t be going with a plan just because you got a word-of-mouth referral, and similarly you shouldn’t be choosing a health plan simply because it has the lowest premium you could find. One of the irritating things about health insurance plans is that their benefits can fluctuate and change regularly, as can the medical needs of your family. The best way to shop around for a plan is to look at your family’s average number of visits to the doctor per year, any recurring prescriptions, any routine dental work, and similar healthcare services. Then, with these values, look from plan to plan figuring out what you’d pay for the whole year based on the averages. Make sure you don’t forget your monthly premiums and deductibles!

Consider a High-Deductible Plan

If you’ve gotten used to those $20 office co-pays, then switching over to a high-deductible plan can feel like a pretty big change. However, switching yourself to one of these plans can save you hundreds every month through reduced premiums. Deductibles for these kinds of plans start high for individuals and go even higher for families, making them a great choice if your family doesn’t have to seek medical attention all that often. Another major benefit of these kinds of plans is that most of them can qualify you to open a health savings account (HSA). These accounts allow you to save money to pay your out-of-pocket expenses and health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. What’s more, any money in your HSA that doesn’t get used will continue to grow tax-deferred, year upon year. However, this doesn’t mean that a high-deductible plan is always a good choice. If anyone in your family suffers from a chronic or otherwise expensive health condition, or you’re not sure of how disciplined you’ll be when it comes to putting money in your HSA, there are probably better options out there.

Don’t Take It Lying Down

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I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that sometimes hospitals, clinics, and insurance firms aren’t always the most helpful institutions in the world. Every now and then, some kind of error, or a pesky bit of company policy, can pile on the cost of staying healthy massively. Sometimes this is just an inconvenient truth that you have to deal with. Other times, however, it’s important not to take it all lying down. For example, if your insurer refuses to pay for some kind of healthcare service which you feel you deserve, don’t just grumble and leave it at that. Try to appeal the decision, and contact your local insurance commission if this doesn’t work. These agencies are used to mediating disputes between insurers and policyholders, and will approach the situation in a fair, objective way. If they rule in your favour, it could save you a small fortune. Of course, this isn’t the only way in which your health plan can screw you over. Because the western healthcare industry is so lucrative and fast-paced, there are many dangerous medications and pieces of apparatus which find their way into hospitals and practices. If you’re prescribed one of these, or a doctor uses a faulty piece of equipment, it can leave you out of pocket and needing even more medical care! Usually, when this happens, the medical institution will have the insurance necessary to compensate you. However, if you’re left empty handed, some form of litigation may be necessary for you to cover your loss. Visit RobinsCloud.com for more

Don’t Gamble

There are various reasons why some people will go for a period of time where they’re not technically covered by their health insurance policy. Even if that window is extremely small, you should never think of it as something you can afford to gamble with. If you or your partner are switching jobs, and you have a period where you’re waiting for the new health insurance policy to kick in, you always need to make sure you have a safety net to fall back on. Ask your current employer whether you can extend the policy you’re already on. The COBRA law requires many, but not all, insurers to let you do this. If this isn’t an option, then the next best thing is to buy a short family insurance plan, ensuring that you don’t go a single day where you don’t have any coverage. These kinds of policies are usually fairly cheap, and can generally be activated within 48 hours. There are many online resources which you can use to compare the prices and benefits of different health insurance plans.

Take Advantage of Available Extras

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You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who wave away or ignore various benefits tied up in their health insurance, simply because they don’t fully understand their policies. Don’t dawdle along as one of these people! There are a range of valuable services which people don’t typically hear about, so poke around on the internet and find out what’s on offer. Some firms, for instance, will have nurses on call 24 hours a day. These professionals will be able to tell you whether or not your persisting cold symptoms mean you should visit a doctor, how to safely remove a large splinter, and help you with various other pieces of useful medical information. Various plans will also offer policyholders various discounts on gym memberships, acupuncture, massage treatments and weight-loss classes. Sure, taking advantage of these kinds of extras won’t strictly save you money, but it will certainly mean that you’re getting more for your premium.

Choose Flexible Spending

If you or your partner’s employer offers a flexible spending account, and you’re not using it, you’re pretty much pouring money down the drain. Flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, are tax-protected accounts, which can be used for paying your out-of-pocket health expenses, such as prescription and office co-pays. To make sure you’re not going over unnecessarily, refer back to the estimates and averages you worked out when looking at different insurance plans, and use this as a guide to adjust your savings. Consider putting around 20% less than you’re currently saving into your account, ensuring that you don’t have to scramble to find a way of spending it before the money disappears. Flexible spending accounts work on a kind of “use it or lose it” basis, and the money you invest in one has to be used within a year. You can use that last bit of leftover money on things like dental cleanings, replacing your glasses or contact lenses, and other medical expenses. You can even use them for certain over-the-counter health products, including infant painkillers, contact-lens solutions, bandages and dressings.

Read Bills and Other Documents Twice

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That old adage “trust me, I’m a doctor” has had a pretty detrimental effect on some people’s wallets over the years. Believe it or not, up to half of the medical bills you receive have errors in them that could end up costing you more money than the procedure should have cost. Something as minor as an incorrect billing code could lead to your insurer paying out less than they should have, or even reject your claim altogether! Other frequent errors include minor mistakes in your account number, claims that are lacking some kind of information, even ones that have been sent to the wrong address by the doctor. If you haven’t had a claim or had to deal with anything involving your insurance for some time, then it can be very easy to let these kinds of errors slip through the net. The next time a claim goes through, read through your bills and benefits booklet, checking that your plan is paying all it should, and that the doctor hasn’t tacked on any services which you didn’t receive or consent to. If you pick up on an error, send a signed letter to your insurer. Insurance firms have a lot on their plate at any given time, so it’s also a good idea to follow up in a week or two just to make sure it’s been corrected.

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