In The News > 9 Secrets to Saving on Healthcare Costs

9 Secrets to Saving on Healthcare Costs

Did you know that 66% of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall?

It's no wonder why rising healthcare costs continue to be a hot topic of conversation. So finding creative ways to save on healthcare costs should be top of mind for you.

Whether you have Medicare, coverage through your employer, or insurance through the marketplaces, here are 9 ways to save on medical costs.

1. Incorporate Healthy Habits

Finding ways to improve your general health and wellness can lower your out-of-pocket health care costs. After all, fewer trips to the doctor means fewer copays and less money spent on healthcare.

Here are 4 simple actions you can take to live a healthier lifestyle.

  • Less sugar, more water. Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water: Think cucumbers, watermelon and celery.
  • Sit less, more movement. Stand up throughout the day, stretch, take the stairs, and park further away: These are just a few ways to move more.
  • Get rest. When thinking of healthy habits, sleep often falls low on the list. But chronic sleep deprivation can increase heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and many other illnesses.
  • Wash your hands. The coronavirus pandemic serves as a major reminder to wash our hands frequently and correctly. Wash your palms, fingernails, and the backs of your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

2. Reduce Stress

Stress often increases with age, leading to a host of health problems. Finding ways to lower your stress can go a long way.

There are many simple ways to reduce stress in your daily life. Try things like working out or moving daily, spending more time with friends and family, and reducing your caffeine intake. And don't forget to laugh more.

3. Save Money on Medications

The cost of prescription drugs can really take a lot out of your wallet. So if you're used to getting brand-name medications, consider asking your doctor for a generic alternative. It could save you money in the long run.

For seniors especially, the cost of medications continues to rise at an alarming rate.

One of the simplest ways for seniors to save is to find and compare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D). Start by comparing quotes, or talking to an insurance agent who is willing to research the medications you take.

The right agent will have knowledge of all the pharmacies close to your home and plans available in your area. He or she can also help you identify ways to save on your prescriptions.

4. Use a Health Savings Account (HSA)

You may have access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer (or previous employer). Using an HSA can save you money because your contributions are pre-tax dollars and can accrue interest.

And unlike a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), the HSA is owned by you, so it can carry over into your retirement. And there is no deadline on when you can spend the funds.

5. Know The Difference Between Emergency Care and Urgent Care

Some people don't know the difference between emergency care and urgent care. But knowing which option to use in a given situation can save you money: Emergency room visits can cost far more than urgent care center visits.

Your initial reaction might be to go to the ER when you need medical treatment but can't see your primary care doctor. But in many cases, an urgent care facility will serve you just as well at a lower cost.

Start by keeping a list of nearby ERs and urgent care centers handy. An urgent care visit is good for a minor illness or injury, but if your condition is life-threatening, always go to the ER.

You might also consider going the telemedicine route, which entails talking to a doctor online, rather than going to an in-person appointment.

Telemedicine usage also gained momentumduring the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, turning to telehealth may not only reduce your healthcare costs - it could save you time and keep you out of the waiting room.

6. Ask If All Tests Are Necessary

You may think that doctor-ordered tests are standard protocol, but those tests could get expensive fast. Be sure to ask your doctor if all diagnostic tests are necessary for your health.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor if all diagnostic tests are necessary for your health. Here are some questions to get the conversation started.

  • Why is the test being done?
  • What steps does the test involve?
  • How long will it take to get the results?
  • What will the test cost?

7. Request Outpatient Services When Possible

Did you know that some inpatient procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis? Often, doctors choose to have a procedure performed on an inpatient basis, simply for the convenience of the patient and the medical staff. Many procedures do require a medically supervised period of recovery, but not all of them.

There's nothing wrong with asking your doctor if a procedure can be performed in an outpatient clinic rather than at the hospital. If so, the savings can be significant.

8. Choose Your Doctors Wisely

Just because a physician or facility accepts your health insurance or Medicare plan doesn't mean that your costs will be controlled.

If you're on Medicare, consider these two steps:

  • First, check if the provider accepts assignment. This means that the provider has agreed to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment for services. If your provider doesn't accept assignment, then your out-of-pocket costs may be higher.

  • Second, choose the right doctor for you. The ideal provider has specialized experience with those age 65 and over, which can save you repeated visits to the doctor. One way to shop around for doctors and specialists is through the physician compare feature on Medicare.gov. You can use this tool to compare providers in your area, or you may opt to discuss the topic with a licensed insurance agent.

In general, researching and shopping around for the right healthcare provider could save you money over time.

9. Use Your Medicare Benefits

It may sound contradictory, but going to the doctor can ultimately lower your healthcare costs.

Most insurance plans, including Medicare Advantage, come with certain wellness benefits. Getting regular physicals and patient-specific tests can uncover minor health problems before they become major ones.

Let's say a man gets a routine PSA blood test done, which reveals the possibility of low-grade prostate cancer. Early intervention makes the treatment cost far less early on, resulting in fewer trips to the doctor and fewer copays. In other words: lower cost.

You Can Save On Healthcare Costs

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to do your research, ask the right questions, and incorporate healthy habits to decrease healthcare costs.

You can also find more tips to avoid medical debt in this article.

What you should read next

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period coupled with the 2020 Presidential Election created a prime opportunity to launch our latest healthinsurance.com survey that reached 1,000 U.S. adults over age 65. Survey topics focused on: Medicare Open Enrollment Medicare Healthcare Costs Telemedicine During COVID-19 Technology and Social Media Usage Among Seniors The 2020 Presidential Election Here are some key Medicare survey findings broken down by category. 2021 Medicare Open Enrollment The Medicare Open Enrollment period prompts Medicare beneficiaries to review their Medicare coverage on an annual basis. During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, Medicare beneficiaries have the option to: Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan. Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare. Change from one prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another. Enroll in a prescription drug plan. Cancel prescription drug coverage. With these decisions in mind, our Medicare survey uncovered that: 84% are confident that they are enrolled in the right Medicare plan. 70% have never adjusted their Medicare coverage, while 34% are not sure yet if they are going to change or adjust their Medicare coverage during open enrollment. 44% say selecting a plan that accepts their doctors is most important when choosing a Medicare plan, while 27% say selecting a Medicare plan with low monthly premiums & copays is most important. Medical Cost Concerns for Medicare Beneficiaries 82% think prescription drug prices are too high. 54% are worried about the cost of healthcare if they contracted COVID-19. Telemedicine Usage Among Medicare Beneficiaries 94% of Medicare beneficiaries hadn’t used telemedicine before COVID-19. 71% of seniors on Medicare increased their telemedicine usage during the coronavirus pandemic. 42% will continue to use telemedicine on a regular basis when the pandemic is over. Seniors Are Getting Social 52% seniors use Facebook everyday. 39% seniors have gone to a restaurant over the past month. 26% seniors have attended in-person gatherings with their families within the past month. The 2020 Presidential Election 82% say this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. 49% say the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy makes them more concerned about the U.S. healthcare system. Full Medicare Survey Results Click here to download the full Medicare survey results. Our Medicare Survey Methodology The above Medicare survey results were gathered through a national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults over age 65 on October 1-6, 2020. The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/1 3.1 percentage points. Explore More Healthinsurance.com Surveys September 2020: U.S. Healthcare, 2020 Election and More August 2020: Multigenerational Perspectives on COVID-19 July 2020: Medicare Eligible Seniors Survey Findings: Technology, COVID-19, the 2020 Election and More June 2020: Healthcare Technology, Self-Care and More May 2020: Testing, Mental Health, and More April 2020: Economic Impacts and Health Insurance Trends March 2020: Telemedicine Usage During COVID-19
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Our latest national consumer survey reaching 1,000 registered voters measured feelings about the U.S. healthcare system, the U.S. economy during the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Presidential election and telemedicine. The survey comes at a crucial decision-making time of the year when the U.S. Presidential election, health insurance open enrollment period, and the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period are fast approaching for many Americans. The United States Healthcare System When rating the U.S. healthcare system: 36% said fair. 27% said good. 24% said poor. 11% said excellent. 2% were unsure. When asked if our healthcare system has changed for the better or worse due to COVID-19: 45% felt it was unchanged. 33% felt it was worse. 14% said it was better. 8% were unsure. Also of note, 69% said giving more control to patients and doctors is the key to improving the United States healthcare system. Meanwhile, 11% chose giving more control to government officials and bureaucrats. And 20% were not sure how to improve it. Participants were also asked about the quality of U.S. healthcare services since the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) was enacted: 31% said the quality of healthcare has gone down, while 29% said it’s gone up. Lastly, 84% of our respondents said the cost of all health care services, procedures, and medications should be made available in advance to patients. The 2020 Presidential Election Our survey also honed in on what’s most important to people in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election: healthcare reform, the economy, civil rights, law and order, government corruption, and our response to COVID-19. Here’s how our participants responded: 95% said the U.S. economy is an important issue. 91% said government corruption is an important issue. 88% said our nation’s response to COVID-19 is an important issue. 88% said healthcare reform is an important issue. 86% said civil rights is an important issue. 85% said law and order is an important issue. Health Insurance in the United States Our survey also gauged feelings on an array of health insurance and employment topics, including consumer feelings about health insurance, a proposal to ban private insurance, and COVID-19 impacts on health insurance. When it comes to our respondents’ feelings on their health insurance: 38% rated their health insurance as good. 26% rated their health insurance as excellent. 23% rated their health insurance as fair. 10% rated their health insurance as poor. And when asked what type of health insurance has the best medical care coverage: 40% said employer-sponsored coverage. 21% said Medicare. 19% were unsure. 12% said Medicaid. 9% said Obamacare. Of note, 25% of our respondents have lost or know someone who lost their health insurance during COVID-19. For those who are employed, 38% are reluctant to switch jobs right now because they want to keep their current health insurance. Last but not least, the survey gauged a possible proposal to ban all private health insurance companies and require every American to get their coverage through the federal government. When asked about this concept, 15% of respondents strongly favored the proposal, while 35% were strongly opposed. As for the rest of the group, 19% were somewhat in favor and 18% were somewhat opposed to the proposal. Employment and Working From Home Our national survey also covered what’s important when considering or accepting a new job. 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In our latest survey, 79% had not used telemedicine prior to the pandemic, but 43% have used telemedicine during the pandemic. While highlighting several advantages of telemedicine versus visiting a doctor in person, we asked our respondents which telemedicine perk is most appealing to them. 55% said avoiding the waiting room. 47% said convenient scheduling. 47% said the wait times were better. 38% said getting care from home. Full Current Events in the United States Survey Results Click here to download the full results. Our Survey Methodology The above survey results were gathered through a national survey of 1,000 registered voters, which was conducted September 4 - 8, 2020. The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. See More Healthinsurance.com Surveys August 2020: Multigenerational Perspectives on COVID-19 July 2020: Medicare Eligible Seniors Survey Findings: Technology, COVID-19, the 2020 Election and More June 2020: Healthcare Technology, Self-Care and More May 2020: Testing, Mental Health, and More April 2020: Economic Impacts and Health Insurance Trends March 2020: Telemedicine Usage During COVID-19
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Did you know that 66% of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall? It's no wonder why rising healthcare costs continue to be a hot topic of conversation. So finding creative ways to save on healthcare costs should be top of mind for you. Whether you have Medicare, coverage through your employer, or insurance through the marketplaces, here are 9 ways to save on medical costs. 1. Incorporate Healthy Habits Finding ways to improve your general health and wellness can lower your out-of-pocket health care costs. After all, fewer trips to the doctor means fewer copays and less money spent on healthcare. Here are 4 simple actions you can take to live a healthier lifestyle. Less sugar, more water. Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water: Think cucumbers, watermelon and celery. Sit less, more movement. Stand up throughout the day, stretch, take the stairs, and park further away: These are just a few ways to move more. Get rest. When thinking of healthy habits, sleep often falls low on the list. But chronic sleep deprivation can increase heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and many other illnesses. Wash your hands. The coronavirus pandemic serves as a major reminder to wash our hands frequently and correctly. Wash your palms, fingernails, and the backs of your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. 2. Reduce Stress Stress often increases with age, leading to a host of health problems. Finding ways to lower your stress can go a long way. There are many simple ways to reduce stress in your daily life. Try things like working out or moving daily, spending more time with friends and family, and reducing your caffeine intake. And don't forget to laugh more. 3. Save Money on Medications The cost of prescription drugs can really take a lot out of your wallet. So if you're used to getting brand-name medications, consider asking your doctor for a generic alternative. It could save you money in the long run. For seniors especially, the cost of medications continues to rise at an alarming rate. One of the simplest ways for seniors to save is to find and compare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D). Start by comparing quotes, or talking to an insurance agent who is willing to research the medications you take. The right agent will have knowledge of all the pharmacies close to your home and plans available in your area. He or she can also help you identify ways to save on your prescriptions. 4. Use a Health Savings Account (HSA) You may have access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer (or previous employer). Using an HSA can save you money because your contributions are pre-tax dollars and can accrue interest. And unlike a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), the HSA is owned by you, so it can carry over into your retirement. And there is no deadline on when you can spend the funds. 5. Know The Difference Between Emergency Care and Urgent Care Some people don't know the difference between emergency care and urgent care. But knowing which option to use in a given situation can save you money: Emergency room visits can cost far more than urgent care center visits. Your initial reaction might be to go to the ER when you need medical treatment but can't see your primary care doctor. But in many cases, an urgent care facility will serve you just as well at a lower cost. Start by keeping a list of nearby ERs and urgent care centers handy. An urgent care visit is good for a minor illness or injury, but if your condition is life-threatening, always go to the ER. You might also consider going the telemedicine route, which entails talking to a doctor online, rather than going to an in-person appointment. Telemedicine usage also gained momentumduring the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, turning to telehealth may not only reduce your healthcare costs - it could save you time and keep you out of the waiting room. 6. Ask If All Tests Are Necessary You may think that doctor-ordered tests are standard protocol, but those tests could get expensive fast. Be sure to ask your doctor if all diagnostic tests are necessary for your health. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor if all diagnostic tests are necessary for your health. Here are some questions to get the conversation started. Why is the test being done? What steps does the test involve? How long will it take to get the results? What will the test cost? 7. Request Outpatient Services When Possible Did you know that some inpatient procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis? Often, doctors choose to have a procedure performed on an inpatient basis, simply for the convenience of the patient and the medical staff. Many procedures do require a medically supervised period of recovery, but not all of them. There's nothing wrong with asking your doctor if a procedure can be performed in an outpatient clinic rather than at the hospital. If so, the savings can be significant. 8. Choose Your Doctors Wisely Just because a physician or facility accepts your health insurance or Medicare plan doesn't mean that your costs will be controlled. If you're on Medicare, consider these two steps: First, check if the provider accepts assignment. This means that the provider has agreed to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment for services. If your provider doesn't accept assignment, then your out-of-pocket costs may be higher. Second, choose the right doctor for you. The ideal provider has specialized experience with those age 65 and over, which can save you repeated visits to the doctor. One way to shop around for doctors and specialists is through the physician compare feature on Medicare.gov. You can use this tool to compare providers in your area, or you may opt to discuss the topic with a licensed insurance agent. In general, researching and shopping around for the right healthcare provider could save you money over time. 9. Use Your Medicare Benefits It may sound contradictory, but going to the doctor can ultimately lower your healthcare costs. Most insurance plans, including Medicare Advantage, come with certain wellness benefits. Getting regular physicals and patient-specific tests can uncover minor health problems before they become major ones. Let's say a man gets a routine PSA blood test done, which reveals the possibility of low-grade prostate cancer. Early intervention makes the treatment cost far less early on, resulting in fewer trips to the doctor and fewer copays. In other words: lower cost. You Can Save On Healthcare Costs Bottom line: Don't be afraid to do your research, ask the right questions, and incorporate healthy habits to decrease healthcare costs. You can also find more tips to avoid medical debt in this article.
Read More »

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