Health insurance costs are rising fast, and wages and inflation aren’t keeping up.
If you’re like most of the country (55 percent, according to one of the latest polls), you’re probably feeling some stress when it comes to figuring out how you’re going to afford coverage without completely draining your bank account.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to save money on health insurance. Read on to learn more about six different ways that you can start doing this today.
1. Consider a Primary Care Membership
There are a number of alternatives to traditional insurance policies, and they can help you save money on health care while still making sure you have the coverage you need.
One such option is a primary care membership. This works sort of like a gym membership for your healthcare needs.
Some medical practices — as well as some individual physicians — offer a variety of services for a flat monthly fee. This fee gives you access to a variety of routine medical procedures, including blood tests, check-ups and doctor visits, and pediatric care without any kind of copay attached.
These memberships do not cover major injury treatment, hospital stays, or surgery, but they’re a good option for relatively healthy people who just need the basics the covered. You can also supplement a primary care membership with a high-deductible, low-premium policy that will provide you with coverage in the event of an emergency.
2. Join a Cost-Sharing Program
Another alternative to traditional insurance is a medical cost-sharing program. This type of program allows members to pay a monthly fee and then pool their resources to share medical costs as they arise.
Instead of a deductible, you’ll pay an incident fee, which is like a copay, when a medical event occurs. After you pay that fee, the rest of the expenses related to your treatment are covered by the pooled fees that everyone contributed to the program.
Cost-sharing programs can often negotiate special discounts with medical facilities and primary care physicians to keep costs low.
It’s important to note that many cost-sharing programs stem from churches and faith-based organizations. Because of this, some will exclude certain costs, including the cost of abortions or birth control prescriptions.
3. Open a Health Savings Account
A health savings account helps you cover the cost of medical expenses like prescription drugs and doctor visits. Many employers give you the opportunity to set up a health savings account, but they’re also available for individuals to set up themselves. Like a primary care membership, you can combine a health savings account with a high-deductible plan to cover the cost of serious illnesses or injuries.
HSA payments are considered pre-tax deductions, and there is no penalty for spending or withdrawing money as long as you’re using it to cover medical expenses. The IRS does limit maximum contributions to these accounts, though. The current limit for an individual is $3,450, and the limit for a family is $6,900.
4. Look Into a Medical Discount Card
If you’re okay with taking a “cash only” approach to your health care costs, another option that can help you save money is to look into a medical discount card.
These cards can be used for physician services, hospital services, and/or prescription drugs. They come with pretty substantial discounts — sometimes up to 80 percent or more. Another advantage is the fact that medical discount cards can be used to cover the cost of major dental services, something that is often limited with traditional insurance plans. Some cards are completely free, but others require you to pay a one-time membership fee. Some also require a small monthly fee in addition to the membership fee.
Medical discount cards also often come with restrictions on where they can be used, in the same way that an insurance policy requires you to visit doctors within a pre-specified network.
5. Look for Policy Discounts
If you’re not interested in changing your insurance policy but still want to save money on health insurance, consider asking your insurer if they offer discounts or incentive plans.
Many insurers will give you a discount or provide other financial advantages if you use a fitness tracker to keep track of your health.
Others provide discounts if you enroll in a company wellness program, workout at a gym, eat a certain type of diet (such as vegan), lose a significant amount of weight, or keep your blood pressure, BMI, and blood sugar within a certain range.
6. Look into Medicare/Medicaid
Depending on your current financial situation, you may also want to consider applying for Medicare or Medicaid to save money on health insurance and health care costs.
There are a number of different Medicaid and Medicare plans available, depending on your state, that will help offset the costs of and improve your access to healthcare. Some people are also eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare — this is known as being “dual eligible.”
Specific qualifications vary from state to state, but the following guidelines will give you an idea as to whether or not you qualify for either or both of these services.
People who are over the age of 65, have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years, and are either a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident are eligible for Medicare.
People who are younger than 65 may also be eligible if they meet one or more of these criteria:
- Have received disability benefits or a disability pension for at least two years
- Are suffering from permanent kidney failure and require routine dialysis or a transplant
- Are suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Medicaid is designed to support low-income families and individuals and help them cover the costs of medical care and long-term custodial care.
Eligibility for Medicaid is based on your income, and each state’s program has very specific requirements to determine who is eligible and how much coverage they are eligible for.
You must meet criteria for both Medicare and Medicaid to be eligible for both services.
It’s natural to be stressed about the cost of healthcare. But, you don’t have to continue to pay out the nose for medical expenses. Keep these tips in mind to start saving money on health insurance today.