Health care expenses are on the rise, leaving many Americans unable to afford proper and preventative health care and health insurance. With a few simple tips, you may find that you can help to lower your health expenses and save money on everything from health insurance to medications with minimal effort.
Sign up for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
So many people do not sign up flexible spending accounts, but it's the easiest way to save money on health expenses. Participants set aside a portion of their paychecks for health expenses that get deposited into the flexible spending account. You don't pay taxes on these monies, so you are in essence getting a big discount on health care expenses. Be sure to estimate well how much money you will need, because if you don't use the money you have earmarked by the date specified on your plan, you will forfeit the remainder. The good news is you can use any excess money to purchase many common drugstore goods, such as vitamins. See your plan for details.
Increase your Deductible
Increasing the annual deductible through your health insurance is a quick fix to ensure that you have less money taken out of your paycheck. However, be sure that this is the right choice. While you will be paying less towards health insurance each month and saving money, be sure you are in a position to pay the full deductible if an emergency happens. You should also consider your overall health and the health of your family. If you are elderly, have pre-existing conditions or a large family, you may be better off sticking with a lower-deductible, traditional health insurance plan.
Ask for Generics
Most medications have an FDA-approved generic version that can save you money regardless of your income level--between 70-80%. Ask your doctor if you can get a generic version. If you absolutely have to have a brand-name drug, be sure to take advantage of mail-order capabilities. Using a mail-order pharmacy or plan offered through your health insurance allows you to receive medications in bulk and can save you around 50%.
It may seem awkward at first, but rates for most medical procedures are negotiable. Some doctors also may be willing to charge you less if you pay in cash for the entire amount of the service up front, as this can help save time and billing issues. If you're seeing a doctor outside of your health insurance network, ask him if he is willing to charge you in-rate fees.
Many employers will give discounts on traditional health insurance for leading healthier lives. Ask your health plan administrator if you are eligible for a discount by quitting smoking or embarking on a weight-loss program. By getting healthier, saving money is just a bonus!