Guest Blog || Shireen Jafri ||
Healthcare is expensive and unavoidable, which makes it one of those things that the average individual has to worry about constantly. Most people struggle to pay their medical bills, and this includes even those who have health insurance. When you have health insurance, you have to pay an annual premium to get the coverage you need under your desired insurance plan. Depending on the plan you choose, this isn’t always too light on the pocket. Some people are fortunate enough to work for employers who pay a proportion of their insurance premiums. But for those who don’t, the premium is an expense that they must pay entirely out of their own pockets. Moreover, this isn’t the only thing you need to pay for. From medical expenses not covered under your insurance plan to the copayments and deductibles, the money you spend on healthcare can quickly add up to a hefty amount if you are not smart about your spending. Some research and planning can go a long way in reducing the amount of money you spend on healthcare each year. Let’s have a look at some things you can do to get maximum value from your healthcare spending:
Chose The Right Insurance Plan
When choosing your healthcare plan, don’t simply go for one that has the lowest premium or the first one recommended by your insurance provider. The insurance benefits under each plan can vary significantly, and therefore, you must choose one that meets your family’s specific healthcare needs. To do this, take note of your family’s average doctor visits, and the routine prescriptions and healthcare services they require. Next, evaluate different plans and select one that minimizes your cost in these areas. Why should you pay extra to get coverage for things like CT scans, MRIs, or stress tests when you don’t need them?
Shop Around For The Best Price
The price of different treatments can vary significantly among healthcare providers. For instance, one hospital could be performing surgery at half the price charged by another one. Similarly, there is often a massive difference between the rates being charged by imaging centers for various tests and scans.
By doing some research on the best price for non-emergency treatments, you can save some good money. Most insurers can assist you with this as they have the costs charged by different healthcare providers listed on their website for easy comparison.
Be Mindful of Tiers
Many health plans feature several tiers. It means, if you choose a hospital or doctor from the lowest tier, you will get more coverage and pay less from your pocket than choosing a hospital from a higher tier. It applies to drugs and medicines too. The covered drugs usually fall under three to four tiers. If you wish to minimize your healthcare spending, you can always choose options from the lower tiers. Even if you are prescribed a medication from the higher tier, you can always ask your doctor if it is possible to use an alternate from the lower tier.
Stay Within Your Plan’s Network
Some plans allow you to choose from healthcare providers that fall outside their network. It is never a good idea and one that can cost you pretty badly. If you opt for this route, you may get reimbursed for a much smaller amount, but the remainder of the bill will come from your pocket. If you must choose a provider from outside the network for some reason, make sure always to discuss the reimbursable amount with your service provider ahead of time.
Check Your Bills For Accuracy
A lot of people don’t know this. Still, a large proportion of hospital or doctor bills contain mistakes that ultimately lead to the insurance company reimbursing a lower amount or even rejecting your claim altogether. Small errors, like incorrect billing codes or incomplete information, can cost you.
Make it a habit to check your benefits to ensure you get paid correctly. If there is any error, a letter must be sent to the insurer to ensure the mistake gets corrected.
Go For Generic Drugs When Possible
This cost-saving strategy won’t work in all cases, but where it does, it is always a good idea to use it. Whenever your doctor prescribes you brand-name medications, you should always ask if there is a generic substitute you can use. A lot of times, generic drugs can fulfill the same purpose as the brand-name medications and cost a fraction of the price. It makes them an excellent option for budget-conscious individuals.
Negotiate Any Services Not Covered By Your Plan
When you need a healthcare service that is not covered under your plan, you should discuss it with your insurer and ask if there is any assistance they can provide, instead of simply paying for it yourself. Sometimes, the insurer might offer you a discount on the service you need. At other times, they might get you a no or low-interest payment option so that you can finance your treatment easily.
See If You Qualify For a Patient Assistance Program
If you find it a constant struggle to keep up with your medical expenses, you can check if you qualify for a patient assistance program (PAP). Not-for-profit organizations and drug companies subsidize these programs. Some are also state-sponsored. Their purpose is to provide support to lower-income groups in the form of low-cost or free medications. You will be required to demonstrate your need for financial assistance to qualifying. Once your application is approved, you could easily reduce your regular medical bills significantly.
Te Bottom Line
For those suffering from serious illnesses, medical expenses can eat up a significant percentage of their overall budget. Thus, it makes sense to look out for ways to minimize this expense as much as possible. A considerable number of people face grave financial problems or even go as far as experiencing bankruptcy due to difficulties in paying for healthcare services. If you don’t want to fall into this category, you need to be vigilant in managing your healthcare expenses before they land you in any form of financial distress.
Shireen Jafri is a creative and passionate blogger who loves to write on various trending topics. She looks forward to pursuing a career as a financial analyst and is keen to learn about business and technology.