Most families (with newborns or not) are looking for ways to cut back on spending and reduce overall expenses. As health care costs rise, this is one area where it pays to know what’s out there and how to get the most for your money. Here are some ways your family can save.
- Do your homework – Calculate what your health care needs really are then shop around to find the best deal. Let the costs of the last year or two be your guide. Figure in everything including over the counter medications and glasses.
- High deductible – If your family is generally healthy, consider getting a high deductible plan. These plans can qualify you for an HSA (Health Savings Account) which can save you even more money. The money in your HSA can also be carried over into the next year.
- Prevention – Get regular check-ups. Staying on top of your family’s health can prevent a lot of costly trips to the doctor. Annual physicals and well baby checks are usually inexpensive or fully covered under many insurance plans, so take advantage of that.
- Insurance extras – Look for the extra perks your insurance company may offer along with your policy. You may be able to call into a 24 hour nurse line rather than make that trip to urgent care. Many insurances offer discount memberships to the local YMCA or health club, too.
- Stay healthy – This may seem like a no brainer, but it is worth repeating. Some insurance companies will offer healthy consumers lower premiums. So stay in shape, keep your weight down, don’t smoke, don’t use alcohol excessively and get plenty of exercise.
- Check your bills – Did you know that billing errors account for a high percentage of increased health care costs? Check your bills for errors. Sometimes the wrong billing code can cause problems or even lead to a claim being denied. Make sure you got what you paid for when the bill comes.
- Use an FSA – Flexible Spending Accounts are used to pay for health care expenses not covered by insurance or out of pocket medical expenses. They also make nice tax shelters for your money. A word of caution: don’t over fund your FSA as there is a use it or lose it policy with these accounts. Calculate the amount of money you think you will use within the year and put in around 80% of that; otherwise you may end up scrambling to spend down the surplus at the end of the year.
- Split costs over 2 years – Sometimes when there is a lot of dental work to be done it is more cost effective to split the cost over 2 plan years rather than doing it all in one year.
- Appeal decisions – If your insurance denies you a service you believe you should receive, you have the right to appeal. If you are denied the second time, you can contact the state insurance commission and they will mediate the dispute. If you win the dispute, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars.
- Samples – Doctors are always getting free samples from the pharmaceutical companies. Ask your doctor if they have samples of the medication they are prescribing for you. Sometimes your doctor will give you enough samples to cover the span of treatment for the ailment.
Finding ways to trim a little in the health care budget doesn’t have to be painful. The result can be a healthier, happier family and money saved as you look for the best deals around and make a commitment to live an active, healthy life style.
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