Saving money on healthcare might sound impossible, but it’s not. For young professionals who are already on a tight budget, keeping money in your wallet in lieu of forking it over for healthcare-related costs is gratifying. For group health insurance for small businesses, you can click here.
Here are some simple steps to maximize your health care dollars:
- Research your health benefits upon hire or during open enrollment. Some employers offer a variety of healthcare benefits including standard commercial health insurance with a lower deductible and higher monthly premium, high-deductible plans with lower monthly premiums, single or family coverage, flexible spending accounts and more. If these terms sound Greek to you, do your research and learn which one would fit you best. If your spouse has better and cheaper benefits, consider joining their plan. Depending on how much you use your benefits, you might save more money in the long run by paying a higher deductible and selecting the lower out-of-pocket premium.
- Consider buying your own insurance. For young professionals on a budget, unemployed or self-employed, consider opting out of your employers’ plan (if available or applicable) and buy your own insurance. If you pay high premiums for high deductible insurance through your employer, you could end up saving more money in the long run by buying your own plan with a lower premium and lower deductible. Websites like www.ehealthinsurance.com allow you to select and compare plans based on price and coverage, and also give you the option to buy vision and dental insurance too. Understand though, that many companies make you go through a process in which a database assesses previous insurance claims and health records, which could affect how much you pay out of pocket. This is a process called underwriting. Also, keep in mind that with individual plans, copays for general visits and emergency room visits, in addition to prescription drug benefits can be much higher than that of an employers’ plan. Always thoroughly read the plan’s benefits before signing on the line.
- Take advantage of community clinics, health departments, teaching schools, and student practitioners. If you find that you need to see a doctor, but don’t have health insurance, many communities have sliding scale clinics in which you pay a portion of the visit based on income. If you find yourself visiting a clinic, be sure to address all health concerns at that visit to maximize your savings. If you’re going for a routine physical, bring up all existing issues so you don’t find yourself paying for an additional visit. If a doctor wants to run tests like lab work, ask them to run only the necessary work. You could save hundreds of dollars in unnecessary testing. Your local health department is a great resource for routine vaccinations at a discount and most health departments offer to test for sexually transmitted infections and diseases for free. Medical and dental schools that are geographically near you can offer steep discounts on routine care as well. Students are supervised by trained and licensed physicians/dentists in a healthcare setting. Call ahead to make appointments as they can fill up fast. If you’re still in school, take advantage of your on-campus health clinic.
- Medicate before it’s too late. Many young professionals let simple illnesses manifest into more difficult to treat problems. By waiting, it can make illness more expensive and more difficult to treat. Try over-the-counter options first. If that doesn’t help, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider see if you need additional prescriptions. In the event you do, ask for generics (which are usually cheaper) or samples. Most doctor’s offices also get coupons or savings cards for branded medications, and many carry coupons in their offices for popular over-the-counter medicines. Ask your healthcare provider if they have any before you leave. Always check websites to look for these money-saving options. If you want to save even more money, check out the $4/$9 generics available at most chain pharmacies to maximize your savings for a variety of medications treating common ailments.
- Prevention is better than a cure. The desire to stay healthy can help you save even more money. Ask about discounts if you’re a non-smoker, exercise regularly or adopt other healthy habits like quitting smoking or eating healthier. Many employers will reimburse or offer gym membership discounts. Getting regular sleep, heading to the doctor for preventative exams (many of which are now covered at 100 percent by most insurances due to the new healthcare laws), vaccination update and taking vitamin supplements daily can help you stay healthier in the long run, which ultimately helps you save more money.