Healthcare was a hot-button issue in the U.S. well before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. But as the pandemic rages on, many of us are even more concerned about the rising costs of coverage and how we’ll pay for necessary care. While premiums, co-pays, and prescription prices may be largely out of your hands, there are still a number of things you can do to make healthcare costs more reasonable in the new year. Here are just five of them to consider!
Shop Around For Insurance Policies
The health insurance marketplace is open from November 1 to December 15, which means now is the time to choose your coverage for 2021. It’s important to not delay this process to ensure you can access the coverage you need. However, that doesn’t mean you should rush to renew your current plan, either. Health insurance premiums and other costs may vary quite a bit from year to year, so it may be worth examining the other options for coverage that are at your disposal. You’ll want to consider more than just the monthly premium, as well, since you’ll also be responsible for co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. Crunch the numbers to figure out how often your family visits the doctor and which kinds of prescriptions you generally need. You can even talk to an agent to discuss whether there might be savings you’ve missed or an option that will be more affordable for your family while still providing peace of mind.
Wear Protective Gear
Regular exercise can be a great way to keep healthcare costs low. After all, working out can boost your immune system, help you sleep better, and allow you to maintain a healthy weight — thus reducing the risk of many health conditions. However, it’s important to wear appropriate protective gear when engaging in certain physical activities. This is especially important for your kids, as they can easily become hurt when riding a bike or going ice skating. Although certain injuries may be treated at home (like mild sprains, which might take seven to 10 days to heal), others would theoretically require emergency care. The fewer visits to the ER, the lower your healthcare costs will be. Be sure to encourage everyone to wear a helmet, knee pads, eye protection, and proper footwear as needed to prevent injuries when playing or working out.
Try Alternative and Preventative Care
Although you might not be thrilled to spend money on preventative care, this is ultimately a money-saving decision. After all, if you can keep your body in excellent shape by maintaining it and eating healthy food, you won’t have to worry as much about emergency scenarios (which tend to be much more expensive). What’s more, preventative treatments may be more likely to be covered — at least, in part — by your insurance company. Keep in mind that some insurers are also including alternative practices, like acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, as part of their coverage. A recent study found that physical therapy can lower patient treatment costs by 72%. So even if an alternative treatment isn’t covered by your insurance, it may still lower your overall healthcare costs in the end. While these treatments may not be a substitute for modern medicine, they can often be used as a supplement or even as an alternative to more extreme treatments (like surgery or potentially addictive medications).
Take Advantage of Telemedicine
Telehealth has become more popular in recent years and has really taken off during the pandemic. If you don’t have to make a physical trip to the doctor’s office, you can avoid taking too much time off from work or potentially being around others. In addition, telemedicine may be more affordable than, say, going to urgent care. It certainly depends on what your insurance company offers, but some provide a “doctors by phone” option that allows you access to healthcare for a monthly fee. In many cases, you can obtain prescriptions and receive diagnoses without ever having to see anyone in person. If you’re quarantining or you can’t get an appointment with your regular physician, this can be a great option — and it may be less expensive than other options available to you.
Go Generic Or Ask For Samples
The cost of prescriptions can be astronomical for many families, especially because different insurance policies may not cover certain drugs with any real predictability. Your plan’s drug formulary may change each year and it’s easy to overlook a medication someone in your family needs. Whether you’ve been on a certain prescription for years or your doctor has made a new recommendation, it’s a good idea to see whether it might be possible to use the generic version or to obtain some free samples from your physician. This can allow you to save quite a bit while still being able to access the medication you need. It may also be helpful to sign up for prescription discount programs or use an app to see whether you can find some savings. Even the pharmacy you choose may offer different prices for the same medication, so don’t be afraid to make a switch if you’ve got prescription price sticker shock.
Certainly, it isn’t easy to save money on healthcare needs — especially when you have little ones at home. But it isn’t impossible to reduce your expenditures in this area. You may need to be fastidious and get a bit creative, but these tips can come in handy as you prepare for another year ahead.