Quit whining about your healthcare costs! Top 10 things you need to know to save money on your healthcare!
hen you learned to drive a car, did you just get behind the wheel and go? When you bought a house, did you buy the first one you looked at? When you financed the house, did you go with any ol' lender? When you enrolled in your health insurance, did you REALLY sit down and learn how to use it?I work with people all day long educating them about their health insurance. I spend HOURS replying on social media, and praised and thanked in the process for helping my friends save money. I was just chatting with a friend on such a subject, and now I pass it on to you: the few folks that chose to open up the article and read (and if you got this far, please "like" my article?).
I personally am a fan of the high deductible plan. My kids and I have a $10,000 deductible, and you won't hear me complain about it. I personally do not want to pay for something I may or may not use (like, car & home insurance...hate paying for THAT but really glad its there if I need it!)!. So I would rather pay less, and save more in my own pre-tax bank account (called a Health Savings Account). However, what makes this work is I have educated myself of "levels of care" and have leveraged insurance options to make this work.
Here's my top 10 list of things you should know
1) You have a telemedicine benefit embedded in your health plan. All the major carriers have this (did you know that?). For around $40-$50 on a high deductible plan (or a regular copay for those of you who haven't figured out the HSA thing yet) you can see a board certified physician right on your smart phone (yes, you can deposit a check to your bank that way now too). This is a great option for acute diagnoses (ear infection, respiratory, pink eye, tummy aches). Not a good option for when you're not breathing or your arm limb is across the room.
2) If your employer has a great agent (ok, there's the shameless plug I'm famous for), then you actually have a telemedicine benefit that allows for a $0 (WHAAAT????, yes, $zero) copay and allows you to enroll up to 5 family members at no additional costs. The really great employers pay for this benefit for the employees because its SO LOW COST to do so, and a great value added benefit. So, when kids get sick: it costs me nothing; and I keep more money in my HSA.
3) Most plans (including my telemedicine benefit) will have some kind of Advocacy program. This allows you to call a nurse line or similar to find out what is the best option for me? My doctor? Urgent Care? ER? or perhaps something else....again...shouldn't cost you 'anything' to use this service. They can also help you negotiate any big medical bills down, costing you less!
4) Next you're thinking: well if telemedicine doesn't work; i'm off to the doctor. Well, not yet. My research shows that convenience care is actually a better option next (things like 'minute clinics'). In a lot of cases, their costs are lower than urgent care (great option if you are on a high deductible plan)!
5) Well, if that doesn't pan out...urgent care? Right??? WRONG! Actually going to your primary care physician or family physician is a better option cost wise. Most won't do this because you may have to wait to get an appointment, and of course, there's that 45 min wait in the waiting room, 30 min in exam room, 5 min with the doctor...to tell you what you already knew. You have bronchitis (and then you kick yourself, because your telemedicine benefit should have been used). . Well...you get the point.
6) Urgent care: pay for convenience. Urgent care is great if you're patience is low or your truly need to get to the doc in a box (now its important to start thinking about the size of the roof...seriously). BY ALL MEANS: Stay out of the ER (bigger roof! bigger bill!!!).
7) Specialty centers-think size of the roof. An MRI in a hospital (big roof) will be, for sake of making a point, $2,500 vs. a MRI standalone center $250 (smaller roof). Same thing with orthopedics! Break an arm...urgent care orthocenter!! not the ER!
8) of course ERs as I educate my clients are for heart attacks, you are unconscious, being transported by a helicopter, or, your arm limb is across the room. My husband will add diverticulitis to the list as well...they just cant pump you up with pain killers fast enough anywhere else.
9) Prescription drugs are last on the list. Research people! its like buying a couch: you go to Ethan Allen, find the one you like then off to Value city & the Dump to find one just like it at a fraction of the cost! Go Generic and for all things holy: USE MAIL ORDER FOR YOUR MAINTENANCE DRUGS!
10) Use Rx coupon sites like www.goodrx.com to price your prescriptions. Take advantage of the coupons, discounts & sales! they won't run through your insurance, but if its cheaper (and has minimal impact on the out of pocket cost <-oh boy...that's a whole other article)...go for it!
All that to say: educate people. Find out what your health plan offers. It must start with ME (well, you) to get control over the utilization of your plan!!! Make wise choices (and make sure your company has a great *shameless plug* agent)!!!!
*and of course the disclaimer: This article is not designed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Always use prudent person judgment when seeking care for any illness or injury.