If you haven’t noticed, costs everywhere are rising. This is due to supply chain issues as well as the natural order of inflation. So it’s no surprise that you might be keeping an eye on your current healthcare costs and how you thrive as an employee, too.
Luckily there are many actions you can take to keep your healthcare costs low this year. While many of the ideas below you may already know about (but are possibly guilty of putting them off), others you may not even know exist.
1. Work within your network
This may seem like an obvious first step but finding doctors in your network can make a huge financial impact on your medical bills. It’s understandable that we go to doctors we are comfortable with, find through recommendations of friends, or have already been seeing for years, but nowadays finding a doctor you like in your network can be easier than you think.
With sites like ZocDoc as well as your own insurance platform, you can easily find many professionals to choose from based on location, speciality, gender, and more.
2. Schedule your annual exams in advance
You can easily stay ahead of any possible costly health issues by staying on top of your annual appointments. The most obvious example of this can be related to cavities. By getting annual or by-annual checkups done - it’s a lot easier to catch and fill in a small cavity as opposed to not catching it until the cavity turns into a painful and expensive root canal.
Similar logic follows inline with our regular check-ins with our primary care doctor, dermatologist, OBGYN, cardiologist, and more. The same goes for scheduling appointments for our children as well.
3. Purchase generic medication
If you haven’t already considered purchasing generic medication, you should definitely start. Oftentimes there are huge differences in price on prescription generic medications, as well as OTC generic versions.
You should speak with your doctor about generic options for the medications you take, and do your research if they are an equally safe option. According to the FDA, 9 out of 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs.
4. Consider a health savings account
A flexible spending account, also known as an “FSA,” is a specific account that you put money into to pay for out-of-pocket health care related costs. The “savings” come from using your pre-tax dollars.
FSAs are a fantastic tool for helping to not only save money on health-related costs but also inform you on how much your health care costs. The thing to remember is that most FSAs give you the freedom to choose how much money you want to put aside. I recommend starting with a smaller amount based on annual expected visits to physicians and any routine medications that you take. Once you start with a smaller annual amount, you can learn how much you actually can and will utilize. There are also usually limits to how much money you can put aside into a FSA but usually you can put at least 1,000 dollars in.
It’s encouraged that you check with your specific health insurance and FSA organization first, or even your company’s point of contact, but here is a list of common items you could purchase using your FSA savings:
- OTC medicines such as Tyenol, Excedrin, Aspirin
- Insurance deductibles and copayments
- Feminine products
- Breast pumps and supplies
- Dental fees like x-rays, cavities, ect.
- Medical alert bracelet
5. Sign up for a dental membership program
If you don’t have dental insurance, signing up for a dental membership program is your best bet to take care of your oral health as well as prevent costly dental issues down the road. These programs are designed to give patients an affordable alternative to dental insurance that typically include preventative care as well as discounted costs on dental procedures. While not every dentist offers a plan like this, many do!
6. Try your best to not visit the Emergency Room or Call an Ambulance
It may seem silly, but sometimes folks are quick to visit the ER or call an ambulance without fully accessing their needs, and only question their decisions after examining a huge medical bill. Additionally, many insurance plans require pre-authorizations for large costs such as surgeries and ambulance rides.
What this means is if you or your doctor don’t get authorization from the hospital - you may wind up with a higher bill. These days there are countless urgent care centers that offer a wide range of services from x-rays to ear wax cleaning, with offices hours later than a typical doctor's office
7. Use your discounts
Many healthcare companies offer all kinds of discounts to help make staying healthy affordable. These discounts certainly aren’t hidden but they are not necessarily well advertised by healthcare providers. They are often listed online but if you are having trouble finding what you are looking for, I encourage you to call your healthcare insurance company directly.
Discounts can range on the following:
- Countless devices such as blood pressure monitors, scales, hearing aids, fitness devices such as smart watches
- Special services like acupuncture, therapeutic massage, nutrition guides
- Products such as vitamins, fitness equipment and machines, workout apparel, oral care items such as electronic toothbrushes
- Memberships like gyms, in-person and virtual fitness classes, and meal kit plans
8. Consult with your doctor and insurance first about all tests
Getting an x-ray done or taking a simple blood test may seem harmless, but can often ring up huge medical bills if you’re not careful. The reason for this is various insurance companies have in-network costs for not only doctors but also labs and hospitals. This means having your blood work from one lab versus another may result in a completely different copay.
The same goes for getting specialized tests completed such MRIs and CT scans. Although your insurance may approve of the test you are getting done, they may have a preference of which facilities you go to versus where your doctor's office may refer you out to.
9. Make an effort to stay active
Last but not least, trying to stay active - even with the smallest effort - can make a world of difference down the road. For example, daily stretching and physical activity.
Many studies have found that stretching daily improves flexibility, decreases stress, makes your body more balanced, improves overall achiness, lowers the risk of injury, manages migraine attacks, helps to relieve and prevent back pain, and much more.
And don’t forget looking into employee wellness initiatives for additional inspiration!