Close-up Photo of a Stethoscope

11 Ways To Save On Medical And Health Expenses

Save On Medical

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Medical and health expenses can quickly add up, leaving many people struggling to afford necessary care. However, there are ways to save on medical expenses without sacrificing quality of care.

The health and well being of you and your family is perhaps your most important priority. For many people, medical and healthcare expenses can account for a large portion of their monthly budget as well as a large portion of their debt. Going without medical coverage and healthcare is never a good idea.

In this article, I'll share with you several ways to save money on your medical and health care expenses. Saving money is possible with planning. If you utilize these 11 strategies, you can reduce the financial burden of healthcare while still prioritizing your well being.

A combination of these tips, based on your own situation, will be most effective, so tailor your approach to your specific healthcare needs and financial situation.

Health Insurance Scrabble Tiles on Planner

How to Save On Medical Expenses

Choosing the Right Health Plan

Choosing the right health plan is crucial in saving on medical and health expenses. Here are some tips to help you choose the right plan:

Assess your health needs: Consider your current health status and any medical conditions you may have. This will help you determine the type of coverage you need. For example, choosing a plan with amazing low co-pays for maternity coverage may do you no good if you're over 55.

Compare plans: Compare the benefits, costs, and coverage of different health plans. Look for plans that offer the coverage you need at a price you can afford. If you frequently go to the chiropractor, and there is no chiropractor coverage, this will be an additional charge you will have to pay on your own.

Pro tip – Telemed services are becoming increasingly popular and there are even some plans that allow you to have a telemed doctor as your primary care provider and they offer terrific rates. I'll talk more on this below. However, I caution against this as your primary care because there are a very limited amount of services a telemed doctor can provide.

Consider deductibles and copays: Look for plans with lower deductibles and copays to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Pro tip – Most health care plans allow you to filter your search based on providers, regular prescriptions, specialty care, and medical condition. Use this tool to limit your choices to ones that will cover your known conditions, and then look to make sure they have additional coverage for other things that may come up.

Medical Equipment on an Operation Room

Knowing Your Coverage

Understanding how your health insurance coverage works is essential to saving on medical and health expenses. It is important to know what services and treatments are covered under your plan and what is not. The coverage details can vary from plan to plan, so it is crucial to read the policy documents carefully.

**Pro tip – if you don't understand your policy, call the member service number on the back of your card. It's their job to help you know what you are eligible for and how much it's going to cost.

Some health insurance plans may only cover certain treatments or procedures, while others cover a broader range of services. It is also important to know if your insurance plan requires pre-authorization for certain treatments and procedures.

If you need any type of larger procedure, the doctor or hospital typically have a a department that handles all of the prior approvals for you. You will then either get a letter in the mail from your insurance company, or you'll get a call from the doctor or hospital letting you know if it is covered.

Medical Insurance Cards

Out-Of-Pocket Maximums

An out-of-pocket maximum is the MOST you will have to pay for covered services in a plan year. Once you reach this maximum, your insurance plan will cover 100% of the cost of covered services. Knowing your out-of-pocket maximum can help you plan your medical expenses and avoid unexpected bills.

***Pro Tip – I take my family out of pocket max and divide it by 12. Then I put that amount in a sinking fund, or separate account, each month so I know I will have enough to cover anything that comes up, and I pay our bills with this account. If I don't use it all one year, I just leave it in the account to roll over onto the next year, because plans and prices change all the time.

It is important to note that out-of-pocket maximums only apply to covered services. If you receive treatment or services that are not covered under your plan, you will be responsible for paying the full cost.

Mom and two children in the hospital

Preventative Care Visits

One way to save on medical expenses is to take advantage of preventative care services. Many insurance plans cover preventative care visits, such as vaccinations, annual physicals, and cancer screenings at no cost to you. By staying on top of preventative care, you can possibly catch health issues early on, potentially saving money on more costly treatments down the line. Some common screenings include blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, mammograms, and colonoscopies.

**Pro tip – Many healthcare plans offer financial incentives for enrolling in their rewards program, getting routine check-ups, watching health related videos, getting a certain amount enough steps in per day or going to the gym. Make sure you check online, and call your member services center. Last year I got my choice of a free fitness watch device and this year I got a $100.00 gift card just for answering some health questions and watching some health videos.

Preventive care and early detection are two of the most important ways to save on medical and health expenses. By taking care of yourself and catching potential health problems early, you can avoid costly medical bills down the line.

Selective Focus Photography of White and Black Vital Sign Printing Paper

In-Network Vs Out-Of-Network Providers

When it comes to medical expenses, one of the most important things to keep in mind is whether your provider is in-network or out-of-network. In-network providers are those who have a contract with your insurance company, while out-of-network providers do not.

Using in-network providers can save you a significant amount of money. Insurance companies negotiate rates with in-network providers, which means that you will pay less out-of-pocket for their services. On the other hand, out-of-network providers can charge whatever they want, which can lead to much higher bills.

If you do need to see an out-of-network provider, it's important to understand that you will likely be responsible for a larger portion of the bill. Some insurance plans may not cover out-of-network providers at all, so be sure to check your policy carefully. So save yourself some money and focus on in-network providers.

***Pro tip – Insurance companies have a list of which providers are in network. Typically you can find them online. There is usually an area on the home page that you can search for a provider by specialty, and then you can search by zip code, or location. Or, if you are changing from one insurance company to another, you can always make a quick call to the billing department of your doctor's office. Don't call the nurse for this info, they won't know!

Drawing of a Heart with the text Thank you Doctor

Telemedicine Services

Telemedicine services have become increasingly popular in since the pandemic as a way to get faster care. This service allow you to consult with doctors and healthcare professionals remotely, often through video conferencing or phone calls. Often times this visit can save on medical costs.

One of the biggest advantages of telemedicine services is that they can save patients time and money by eliminating the need to travel to a doctor's office or hospital. This can be especially helpful for patients who live in rural areas or have mobility issues, or stay at home parents who would need to bring in multiple children with them to the office.

Another benefit of telemedicine services is that they can be more affordable than traditional in-person visits. Many telemedicine providers offer lower fees for consultations, and some insurance plans may cover telemedicine visits as well.

***Pro tip – It's important to note that telemedicine services are not suitable for all medical conditions. In some cases, an in-person visit may be necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment, otherwise they may end up sending you to see an doctor in person anyway. However, for many routine health concerns, telemedicine services can be a convenient and cost-effective option.

If your particular plan does not cover telemed services and you are looking for a quick appointment, you can sign up to see a telehealth doctor through a private company. This would most likely be an out of pocket cost for you and not covered at all through your insurance.

Some telemedicine services are:

People Having a Video Call

Negotiate Medical Bills

Before receiving any medical treatment, it's important to ask about the costs involved. This can include the cost of the procedure, any medications that may be prescribed, and any other fees associated with the treatment. You can also ask if there are any alternative treatments that may be less expensive.

If you've already received medical bills, don't be afraid to negotiate the fees. On every statement you get, there will be a number to contact the billing department. When you call them, ask if there is a discount available. Sometimes they will take 10-20% off the bill just for asking. Other times, they may say they can take that amount off only if you pay the bill in full.

***Pro tip – If the initial person you speak with is unable to help you with a discount, ask to speak to a supervisor. ALWAYS be polite and respectful when speaking to the billing department.

If you can't pay the bill in full at that time, ask if you can divide the payments up. If the bill is too large because of a large medical expense or hospital stay, you can ask what kind of financial assistance they have available. They may ask you questions, or they may send you paperwork to fill out. Then they will either remove the billed amount completely, or offer you a lower payment plan,

A woman holding a baby in the hospital

I will caution you that the financial hardship paperwork they send you may be several pages and they will ask for a lot of different kinds of documentation. They may ask for a tax return, pay stubs, a list of debts you currently have, etc. This will take you time to fill out. Set aside an hour to do this at one time, and get it turned in right away. The one or two hours of time it takes you to fill out the hardship paperwork can help you save on medical expenses and months of time paying on them.

***Pro tip – If the amount for a hospital bill seems high, you can also save on medical expenses by asking for an itemized bill to make sure you are not being charged for services you did not receive. Things happen so fast in hospitals, that you can get charged for things that you never had.

I had an ER visit where they charged me over $300 for a medicine I'm allergic to. The allergy is noted on my chart, and I always mention it, yet they still came in and tried to give it to me. When they realized I couldn't have it, they got me another medicine, yet they charged me for both original and the correct medicine. The billing department removed the charge with no problems.

Little girl having a breathing treatment

Use of Health Savings Account (HSA) or (FSA)

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged savings account that can be used to pay for medical expenses. To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). For 2023, the minimum deductible for an HDHP is $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for a family. The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for an HDHP are $7,050 for an individual and $14,100 for a family.

An FSA (Flexible Spending Account) and HSA (Health Savings Account) are different. It's very easy to get confused because they are very similar. An FSA is funded with an amount you choose when you enroll each year. This amount comes out of your paycheck before taxes are taken out of your paycheck.

Save this Pin to be able to refer back to often.

You then will get a card that is just for the FSA eligible items, glasses, bandaids, over the counter meds, prescriptions, etc. This saves you money because it's pre-tax dollars. However – FSA money does not roll over year to year. So if you don't use it all by the end of the year, you lose it.

Woman Carrying Baby

An HSA (Health Savings Account) is similar, in that that the money can be used to pay for a wide range of medical expenses, including deductibles, copayments, and prescriptions. In addition, HSA funds can be used to pay for certain medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, such as dental and vision care.

***Pro-tip – The amount you put into an HSA can be kept in this account for years. If you want to put 100.00 per paycheck in this account, you can just keep saving this money until after you retire and use the money then, which is another way to save for your future. Also, HSA contributions are tax-deductible. This means that the money you contribute to your HSA is not subject to federal income tax. Additionally, any interest or investment earnings on the account are tax-free.

Depth Photography of Blue and White Medication Pill

Generic Over Brand Medications

Prescription medications can be very expensive. Choosing generic over brand-name drugs can be a smart way to save on medical expenses. Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts and are just as safe and effective, but they typically cost less.

In fact, according to the FDA, generic drugs can cost 80-85% less than their brand-name counterparts. This is because generic drug manufacturers do not have to spend money on research and development, clinical trials, and marketing like brand-name drug companies do.

The FDA requires that generic drugs meet the same standards for quality, strength, and purity as brand-name drugs. However, generic drugs may have different inactive ingredients than their brand-name counterparts.

Spilled Bottle of Yellow Capsule Pills

If you currently have one or more prescriptions, you can always call or send and email to ask if a generic equivalent is available.

***Pro tip – Compare your precription insurance prices with GoodRx. GoodRx is not an insurance plan – it's a savings card, and it can be used at many major pharmacies like Walmart, Kroger, Meijer and many others. Also ask your Dr. for three or six month prescriptions for medicines you take regularly. Buying your prescriptions in bulk can save more money. GoodRx has a very easy website to enter your prescription and zip code and it will compare all local pharmacies around you.

Onions and Sliced Lemons

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

If you've spent any time at a doctor's office in the last 10 years, I'm sure they've mentioned having a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent many health issues and reduce medical expenses. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Eat a balanced diet: Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Growing your own produce can make eating healthier a cheaper option. Robin has this all inclusive article about gardening you could check out.
  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough restful sleep can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. Consider practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. Check out this post about 8 types of meditation from Coach Chef Kim.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of many health issues, including cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.

By making these and other healthy lifestyle choices, you can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and potentially save on medical expenses in the long run.

Brown and White Bear Plush Toy

Medical Tax Deductions

One way to save on medical and health expenses is by taking advantage of medical tax deductions. These deductions can help reduce the amount of taxes paid and provide some financial relief.

To qualify for medical tax deductions, the medical expenses must be considered “necessary and ordinary” and exceed a certain percentage of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income (AGI). The percentage varies depending on the taxpayer's age and filing status.

Some medical expenses that may be eligible for tax deductions include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Dental and vision care
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments
Tax Documents on the Table

It's important to keep accurate records of all medical expenses and consult with a tax professional to ensure eligibility for deductions. My friend Cheryl is an accountant who can help with your taxes and save on medical deductions.

***Pro tip – In addition to federal tax deductions, some states also offer tax breaks for medical expenses. Check with your state's tax department to see if you qualify for any state-specific deductions.

Healthcare costs can be a significant burden for many individuals and families. As the price of medical services and prescription medications continues to rise, finding ways to save on health expenses has become more important than ever. In this blog post, we'll explore 16 smart ways to help you manage your medical and health expenses while still receiving high-quality care.

Build a Medical Fund

Having an medical fund dedicated to healthcare expenses can provide peace of mind and financial stability in times of unexpected medical needs. Keep this separate from you emergency fund, so that there is dedicated money set aside for these expenses.

***Pro tip – Also check out my post on paying bills and my printable financial workbook (get it free by using the code “Groupmember”) to help you identify all the areas you spend money. The first step to budgeting and getting control of your finances is finding out where your money is going. Check out my workbook and start finding that money!

Set of gratitude message for doctors with stethoscope and hearts

In order to save on medical and health expenses you need careful planning, informed decision-making, and a proactive approach to your health. By following these 16 smart strategies, you can reduce the financial burden of healthcare while still prioritizing your well-being. Remember that a combination of these tips can be most effective, so tailor your approach to your specific healthcare needs and financial situation.

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  1. So many great tips here! The itemized bill from the hospital is so important, and good for you for catching the error and saving $300!

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