Twelve Ways to Save on Medical Care and Prescriptions
It’s essential that we take care of ourselves – especially with so much happening in our lives right now. We know it’s crucial to promptly address any health issues that arise and manage any ongoing conditions. But paying for medical care can be difficult. We often experience significant price increases for drugs and out-of-pocket health care costs. However, there are ways to save on medical care and prescriptions. Here are 12 ideas:
- Check Out the Affordable Care Act: You might be eligible for assistance through the Affordable Care Act. To find out if you are eligible, visit https://mnsure.org if you live in Minnesota or www.healthcare.gov if you live in another state.
- Use the Right Medical Providers: See the most appropriate medical provider for your needs. Save emergency rooms for life-threatening or serious injuries, urgent care for non-life-threatening conditions, and telehealth or retail clinics for minor illnesses. Follow up with your primary doctor for on-going care.
- Take Advantage of Annual Exams: Don’t miss out on annual health check-ups that your health insurance covers, such as annual physicals, annual eye exams, etc.
- Check Out Sliding Fee Clinics: Research sliding fee scale clinics in your area and see if you qualify.
- Research Drug Costs: Search for providers or pharmacies with lower costs.
- Get Supply Refills for Longer Periods: Switch to 90-day supplies for prescriptions if possible. These are often cheaper than a 30-day supply of medication.
- Inquire About Discounts: Ask the manufacturer/pharmacy for discounts to expensive medications and/or your medical provider about cheaper alternatives.
- Budget Medical Costs: Be sure to add medical costs to your budget to avoid using high interest credit cards to pay for expenses. Estimate how much you will spend on medical bills in the coming year by reviewing previous years’ costs. Then start setting aside money each month in a separate savings account. That way, it will be easier to pay for each health care expense as it arises instead of relying on credit.
- Consider Health Savings Accounts: Health savings or flexible spending accounts can offer significant costs savings. This money will be set aside pre-tax, specifically for approved medical care and prescriptions. If you have little ones, you might have the option to set aside pre-tax dollars for day care as well. You’ll need to determine the annual amount to set aside, so estimate as best as you can.
- Check Medical Bills Carefully: Dispute errors on medical bills and appeal claims denied by insurance.
- Enlist in Special Programs: Ask your medical provider if you qualify for programs such as “community care” to help with medical bills.
- Talk with a Tax Professional: See if you can write off expenses, especially if you are:
- A business owner
- An independent contractor
- On a private insurance plan paid out of pocket
- Incurring large, out-of-pocket expenses relative to your income
For more tips on controlling your medical costs, check out these blogs: Understanding your health insurance and medical bills and How to prepare for unexpected medical costs. Of course, you can also keep costs down by preventing health issues from arising in the first place – eating a balanced diet, refraining from smoking and excessive alcohol use, exercising, and managing stress.
If you are dealing with medical or other debt, LSS Financial Counseling can help by working with you to create a realistic budget and plan to pay off those debts. Call us at 888.577.2227 or get all your support online.
Author Nadine Gall is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.