Posted November 7, 2018
Health care expenses continue to eat away at employees’ take-home pay. Despite government efforts to reduce health care costs, Bloomberg reports that prices continue to increase and are affecting the United States economy. Most employers provide health insurance coverage to assist employees with medical expenses, usually covering a portion of the premium cost. Here are eight other ways employees can save money on health insurance.
1. Participate in well-being programs –Ask whether your company offers incentives, such as lower medical insurance premiums or fitness center discounts, to employees who participate in well-being programs.
2. Research health plans – Most employers offer several choices for health care plans that can provide significant savings on medical costs, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Participating Provider Organizations (PPOs) or high-deductible health plans (HDHPs).
Another option is to search for health plans available in the private health insurance marketplace, such as eHealth.com. Or, maybe you can find a health-sharing plan, where people help pay for each other’s medical expenses.
Research the benefit options to find the plan that best fits your budget and family needs.
3. Visit off-site health services – Instead of going to the hospital emergency room for medical care, visit an urgent care center, telemedicine service, or clinic at a local pharmacy or grocery store. Or, if you need radiology tests or surgery, look for stand-alone centers that provide these services. Off-site health centers have flexible schedules and cost less than hospitals.
4. Choose generic medications – If your doctor recommends a prescription medication, ask whether there is an over-the-counter or generic drug equivalent that you can use. If not, ask whether you can start with half the prescribed dosage to ensure the medication will work for you. For some medications, you can save 30 to 50 percent by using generic vs. brand-name prescription drugs.
5. Pay upfront – When scheduling a medical procedure, ask the provider whether you can pay the cost upfront. Many health care providers offer a discount to patients who pre-pay at the time of the procedure
6. Ask whether medical tests are necessary – Sometimes doctors may order radiology or lab tests to find an explanation for your health problems. Ask the doctor to explain the purpose of the tests and whether they are medically necessary for treatment. In response to your questions, the doctor may rethink the decision and choose a less-expensive testing option.
7. Review medical bills – When receiving a bill for medical tests and procedures, don’t assume that the cost is accurate. Financial experts report that eight out of 10 medical bills contain errors. If you don’t understand a service or fee listed on the bill, ask for an explanation.
8. Review health insurance plan choices annually – Most people are confused by insurance plan choices because they don’t understand the terminology or the cost structure. Once they enroll in health benefits, they often stay with the same plan year after year, even if it doesn’t meet their needs. Ask your employer or insurance agent for assistance in reviewing plans to ensure you’re getting the best coverage for your needs. For help in understanding common health terms, review this blog.