Healthcare is expensive and it’s not getting any cheaper. It’s a sad reality, but some people spend thousands every year just on healthcare. Between monthly premiums, deductibles, prescriptions and office visits, the cost of staying healthy might be equivalent to the cost of rent or a car payment.
Unfortunately, healthcare is something we all need — it protects us from “financial hardship due to unforeseen illness or injury,” says USHealth Group. However, protecting yourself and family doesn’t mean you have to go broke. There are steps you can take to save money and reduce how much you spend out-of-pocket.
- Compare health insurance rates
Not all health insurance plans are created equal, and health insurance premiums vary greatly by provider. So don’t get an insurance policy from the first (and only) company you contact. Compare rates with at least three to four health insurance providers, and you should also compare different plans within a company.
Some health plans cover everything, but you’ll also pay more. You can save by only getting the coverage you need. For example, a single guy doesn’t need a maternity rider. And if you have dental insurance provided by your employer or a discount dental plan, you can skip the dental rider when buying health insurance and save.
- Get a higher deductible health plan
The deductible is what you pay out-of-pocket each year before your insurance kicks in. Some people choose a plan with the lowest possible deductible, but this also results in paying a higher premium. This is a smart move if you don’t have a lot of cash saved up. But if you have several thousand dollars in your savings account, it might be better to choose a higher deductible plan to get a lower premium. For example, a family of three might pay $700 a month and have a $2,000 deductible. However, a plan with a $4,000 deductible might drop the monthly premium to $500 a month.
- Get preventative care
Under the Affordable Care Act, you don’t have to pay for preventative care like annual physicals, colon cancer screenings, mammograms, etc. Early screenings are one of the best ways to diagnose illnesses early and prevent illnesses, which can reduce long-term medical expenses.
- Don’t ignore symptoms
Some people ignore unusual health symptoms for as long as they can. But the longer you wait to bring a problem to your doctor’s attention, the more complicated the problem can become. If ignored, a health issue that started off as an easily treatable condition can quickly become a costly burden. Complications might trigger more testing, surgery, ongoing follow-up care or a more expensive treatment plan that hits your pocket hard.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
The healthier you are, the less time you’ll spend in a doctor’s office. For a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to exercise at least three or four times a week. Getting as little as 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Also, eat a healthy diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Reduce your sodium intake to no more than 2,500 mg a day, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’s also important to stop smoking and limit your alcohol consumption. Men should have no more than two alcohol beverages a day, and women no more than one alcohol beverage per day.
Health insurance is something we all need, and there’s no denying the security it brings. USHealth Group insurance “provide peace of mind in keeping the promise of financial protection afforded by our insurance coverages.” Nonetheless, healthcare can drain our pockets and leave us broke. But if you take preventative measures, compare health insurance plans and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can potentially reduce how much you spend out-of-pocket on health expenses.