There is little doubt that healthcare costs are soaring and people are often financially unprepared for the impact on their well-being. The cost of healthcare is rising faster than any other cost of living. Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue, and even increase in significance. Within just a few years, healthcare will be the biggest expenditure for most people’s annual income, even surpassing the cost of housing.
- To control your spending on healthcare, review your costs. If you begin with healthcare providers who are participating in your medical insurance plan, they charge lower rates for plan members. If you go to a physician who is out of your network, you will likely have to pay any additional fees out of pocket, so try whenever possible to use “in-network” physicians, labs, etc.
- Use generic prescriptions whenever possible. Generic drugs are usually equal in effectiveness to brand name drugs and considerably less expensive. You can also ask your doctor for samples of drugs, especially to use them for a short time period or to just try them to see if they will be effective for you. If you have prescription coverage, then most carriers also offer lower co-pay for generic drugs. A few major stores now offer to fill prescriptions for antibiotics for a flat fee of $4.
- Some employers offer a Flexible Spending Account or a Health Savings Account. Utilizing one of these plans allows you to pay for healthcare costs that you incur with money you earn in “pre-tax” dollars. The amount of money that you are allowed to put in an HSA is related to your income level. You are able to use the money in your HSA for such things as over the counter drugs, prescriptions, co-pays, lab work, and other deductibles. Along with saving taxes, these plans offer fewer burdens to worrying about where money is coming from to pay a health-related expense because the funds are already there.
- If you suffer from asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or certain other chronic conditions, there are also healthcare programs available that offer free management services (e.g., the machines and strips needed to monitor blood sugar levels for diabetics). These can be cost efficient while also assisting in keeping you healthy. Frequently these programs include options for preventive maintenance, as well.