Inflation has taught us all a very important lesson about how we are spending our money. It doesn’t matter if something cost $5 and now costs $10, what the real question has become is whether we need that purchase or not. Every week, you like to go to a restaurant with your family but the cost for that many people is staggering. So, you decide to start cooking more often at home and then go to your favorite restaurant every other week. You immediately start saving hundreds a month and start to look for ways to apply this logic to other aspects of your life.
Healthcare is often the most overlooked area of expenses when people are trying to set a budget and save money. Why is that? Partly because the costs are already predetermined and you have little control, especially if you are on a work plan. You also do not consider the cost of healthcare when you are budgeting because you do not know when you always need to get medical help. These are just some of the reasons why people focus on other areas of their expenses and end up wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.
The fact is that you can save money on your healthcare expenses every year. In order to get a more custom strategy, it’s recommended that you speak with a health insurance advisor. They can go over your personal healthcare costs and needs to help you see where you can save. Most of the options are available to everyone, but few are aware of them including:
- Higher premiums: Do you need all the coverage you are getting? What is the average use of medical assistance you go through in a year? Obviously you want to be well protected but many people unknowingly lose money each month just on the premiums they pay. Cheaper plans may provide all the coverage you need and save you hundreds or more.
- HMO: On paper, a HMO looks like a more affordable option than other plans. However, there’s a reason for that. If you want to see a specialist, you have to get a referral first. This means potentially having to schedule and pay for an additional doctors appointment. If you see a specialist often, you need to check on this aspect before you start giving your money away.
- Not having a HSA: A healthcare savings account is a great option as it gives you tax breaks for putting away some of your income for potential medical cost needs. This is something everyone should look into, especially if you are making good money but your medical expenses are also getting a bit more expensive.
- Prescriptions: Every month, American’s waste millions of dollars on prescrptions they could get cheaper elsewhere. There are new pharmacies everywhere, including online and each are dedicated to showing consumers how much easier and more affordable it is to get your prescriptions filled online and sent right to your home. Even if the savings is not much, not having to wait in line at the pharmacy would be a nice improvement.
- OTC purchasing: Another major area of wasted spending each year is with OTC medicines. These medications are reliable and proven to work for various needs. However, we tend to make the mistake of buying what we need. If you frequently use a medication like cough drops or something to help you combat allergies, make sure that you buy in bulk whenever the item is on sale. It may not seem like much but some can save hundreds a year with this strategy.
- Managing appointments: Are you scheduling doctors appointments at times that make sense for you? This may seem a bit odd but people actually struggle with managing their time and appointments. For example, if you work close to your doctor and they have availability at your lunch time, why not use that free time to knock out the appointment? At the same time, if your doctor is closer to home, try to take that time off from work so that you do not have to make two round trips in the same day, costing you more in gas and also eating up your personal time.
- Low deductibles: A lower deductible usually means that the monthly costs will be going up on your plan. Sometimes, people sign up for these plans believing that the deductible represents what your out of pocket costs are. However, what few realize is that a $5,000 deductible does not necessarily mean once you’ve spent $5,000. The insurer has the discretion to count whatever they want towards that deductible and that means you may need to spend two or three times that amount to hit those marks. If that’s the case, paying more for your premium each month may not be saving you anything.
- Looking for your own coverage: If you work independently and need your own coverage there are plenty of options. However, what you do not want to do is select your own coverage. Why? When you call a provider, you are speaking with a health insurance agent who works for that provider. If you work with an independent advisor, they can give you plans and pricing from dozens of providers. Even better, you do not have to pay a markup because it’s the same pricing as if you were to call the provider and sign up for a plan yourself.
- Using personal time for doctors appointments: We tend to save sick time at work for times when we are really sick. Why that’s understandable, you may want to use your sick days instead for your doctors appointments. Most places of work will be understanding if you have an emergency or get covid and will not count those towards your sick time. Save the personal time for yourself.
- Trying new meds: If you are thinking about trying new medications, try to get free samples. You may not be able to accomplish it with every medication, but even one or two a year allows you to see if it’s effective and keeps you from having to pay for it upfront.
If you can save $1,000 a year for the next 20 years on your healthcare costs would it be worth it? Of course, but when we are in the middle of work and other personal responsibilities we tend to focus less on the money going out and more on the money coming in. Now we all understand that both are just as equally important and it’s worth the time to review every area of your personal finance to see where you can make improvements.