11 July 2014
Stay Healthy for Less – 7 Tips to Cut Family Health Care Costs

The cost of family health care often requires a significant portion of a household’s income. However, by taking a proactive approach to family health, and by discovering several easy ways to lower healthcare costs, you may be able to save money on everything from doctor’s office visits, to prescriptions, to insurance premiums.

1. Increase your deductible. A health care policy with a $250 deductible is likely to cost much more each month than a policy with a $2,500 deductible.  Calculate how much you’d save each month by increasing your deductible and lowering monthly premiums. Determine your break-even point – the month when, even if you have to pay the full deductible, you’ve saved money over the past months.

However, if you can’t afford to pay more at the beginning of each year by opting for a high-deductible policy, and if your family sees the doctor regularly, you may be better off spreading health insurance costs across 12 months each year, paying higher premiums each month.

2. Schedule regular doctor visits. Meeting with the family physician regularly can help prevent illnesses and identify potential medical problems before they worsen. Depending on your age, your overall health and, of course, based on your doctor’s recommendation, stop by for a check-up to keep health costs in check.

3. Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs. The brand name drugs that are advertised on TV tend to be more expensive than generic equivalents – prescriptions that usually provide the same health benefits at much lower cost.

4. Use the emergency room only for emergencies. A trip to the local hospital emergency room for non-emergency treatment can cost several thousand dollars depending on what tests are run to diagnose what ails you. Look into local walk-in clinics that deliver non-emergency medical care at lower prices than the hospital’s emergency room. Kiplinger reports that a trip to the emergency room averages $933, while a trip to the Minute Clinic at a popular drugstore chain will cost $33.* Do the math. The savings add up quickly.

5. Take one pill a day instead of two. If you take two 20 mg tablets of a medication each day, ask your doctor if it would be okay to take one 40 mg tablet each day. If your doctor believes the new medication schedule is just as effective, you’ll probably save money on prescription costs. Of course, it is essential that you discuss any change in your medical and health practices before making changes that may have a negative impact on your family’s health.

6. Take advantage of free screenings. Many health care policies offer free, preventive medicine screenings. Insurers recognize that it’s usually less expensive to prevent a health problem than it is to treat a health problem.  Therefore, they may offer free tests for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and the like.  Some insurers will waive any co-payment on procedures like a colonoscopy or vaccinations. Talk to your health care insurer to see if they offer free screening events. Also, keep your eye out for local health fairs where free screenings are often available.

7. Take care of your own health. The best way to lower health care costs is to stay healthy for as long as you can. Start today by thinking about your diet, the amount of exercise you get, alcohol consumption, and other aspects of your lifestyle that can have an impact on your health. Slowly change unhealthy behaviors and enjoy good health, lower health care costs, and better family health – for a lifetime.

*www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T027-C000-S002-30-ways-to-cut-health-care-costs.html

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.

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