Healthcare is a huge expense, and in some cases of chronic illness it can even add up to more than your monthly rent total – but it’s not the kind of expense that you can skip out on, especially if you have a medical history that means you could need health insurance more. Trying to make healthcare fit within your budget is often a challenge.
There are many ways to make healthcare cheaper – and it can be done just by using your regular healthcare plan in the right ways. Sound complicated? It’s not. It can be done with just a little bit of thought.
Here are 9 great ways to make sure you’re getting the most benefit out of your healthcare plan without having to spend the majority of your money on staying healthy, instead of relying on short term loans or refinancing the home to cover costs.
1. Regular Check-Ups
See your doctor and relevant specialists at least once every six months, even if you think that you’re healthy enough when you do it. This means that you are more likely to spot (and be able to adequately treat) most common health issues before they happen – and that you’ll be healthier as a result – but it also means that your healthcare provider is likely to consider you a more responsible, healthier individual; this can mean that your healthcare premiums are automatically less, and that you aren’t subject to any penalties or extra frees where you need to claim.
2. Recommended Healthcare Providers
Many healthcare plans keep a list of recommended healthcare providers that will include everything from dentists through to emergency surgeons. Using these recommended healthcare providers instead of ones that aren’t on the list will often mean that healthcare insurance is likely to cover more of the expenses, and can mean that you are charged more. This is usually because these listed healthcare providers have signed up to the healthcare insurance plan as reliable providers. This way, it benefits everyone involved – including you. This can also help significantly with the expenses and maintaining your budget.
3. Sign Up for Plan Benefits
The majority of healthcare insurance plans out there will offer some kind of benefits for their members; if you aren’t getting any benefits from your health insurance plan, then it could be that it’s because you haven’t asked about them yet!
These benefits can include redeemable “points”, discounts, exclusive competitions and more – sometimes even cash back at the end of a certain period where you didn’t claim.
Make sure you ask about potential plan benefits before signing up with a new healthcare plan; if you’ve already signed up to a healthcare plan, ask them about how the benefits can help you.
4. Do Your Part
Staying healthy isn’t your healthcare provider’s job – it’s yours.
They know this, and many healthcare providers will add costs and penalties where they can see you’re being reckless with your health. Long-term smokers and reckless drivers, for example, are usually going to pay far more for their healthcare plans (and often vehicle insurance).
Sign up to a gym membership and actually use it, see your doctor regularly and cut down on any bad health and spending habits. Often you’ll be rewarded via reduced premiums as a result.
5. Have Additional Insurance
Insurance is about more than healthcare; you can also have additional insurance such as life insurance, home contents insurance and auto insurance. It’s highly recommended that you do: When you have other forms of insurance to go with your healthcare plan, then it’s also likely that it makes you seem more responsible on paper – and that you’ll get charged less on your overall insurance because of this.
6. Ask About Medication
Prescription medication taking care of chronic conditions can be expensive – and it can still be something that you have to pay for on top of everything else if and when your healthcare insurance doesn’t pay for all of it. If there’s any type of medication you need to take on a regular basis that you feel you’re paying too much for, speak to your doctor about changing over to generic medications.
Why? Generic medications contain the same formulation and ingredients as everything else, they’re just cheaper and you aren’t paying for the brand name.
7. Switch Your Drug Store
If you’re paying too much for your over-the-counter or prescription medication, it’s not always best to switch over your whole healthcare plan – many times it can be enough just to switch to another local drug store instead. Remember that a drug store or pharmacy is a business just like anything else, and pricing often isn’t consistent across the board – or from one store to another.
Find out if there are other competing drug stores in your area who can offer the same medication at a cheaper price. Many times health insurance plans will even have some recommended options, just like they’ll have recommended doctors and dentists.
8. Read the Fine Print for Your Plan
Always read the fine print for your health insurance plan before you sign up – and if you’ve already signed up, then ask to see it. Here is where you’ll see how they handle most of the benefits, and what you can do to save. You might also notice that your healthcare insurance plan isn’t meeting your needs at all when you spot the fine print – does it warrant a change?
The fine print tells you exactly what’s covered under your insurance and what isn’t, and you would be surprised how many people are losing out just because they didn’t read the finer points properly.
9. Ask Why
Always ask why you’re paying the amounts you are – and what you’re actually paying for.
Again, you would be surprised to note how many people out there don’t understand their health insurance plans, don’t understand what happens when they’ve claimed and don’t understand the break-down of costs before they pay their bills.
If something doesn’t look right, it can sometimes be a small mistake that somebody on the accounting or invoicing side didn’t notice – and you might miss it too if you don’t ask.
Asking the right questions at the right time – including “what does this cost mean?” – can often save you a lot of money too.
It’s also wise to have emergency funds on hand in case there is a situation where something comes up that isn’t covered by your healthcare. Finding ways to save where you can on healthcare, your budget will thank you.