Are Your Personal Finances Healthy?
There are some expenses in our personal finances that you just can’t avoid, even if you wish you could. You can take a gamble on never getting sick or hurting yourself, but it’s pretty unlikely that’s going to happen.
You never know when you might need to see a doctor or even end up in the emergency room, so medical costs are vital to consider. Ideally, you would think about them in terms of medical insurance and related costs, not regarding paying out of pocket for any medical procedures you need. Even with insurance, though, you can end up paying a lot of money for both the insurance and anything it doesn’t cover. Reducing your medical expenses is an essential part of managing your budget, so use these tips to keep your costs down.
Get to Grips with Medical Insurance and Shop Around
Medical insurance can be pretty complicated. It’s not always the easiest to understand, but you need to understand at least the basics when you’re choosing a provider and policy. Getting insurance through your employer can sometimes make it a bit easier, but you still might have to make a few choices.
Even though it can be incredibly boring, you need to understand at least a handful of things about how to choose the right insurance for you. Start by learning basic terminology, like deductible, premium and other terms if you don’t already know them. Once you understand what you’re doing, you’re in a better position to shop around and get the best deal.
Know What Your Insurance Covers
It’s always important to know what your insurance policy covers. If you’re unaware of what it does and doesn’t pay for, you could get a nasty surprise one day. Understanding what your insurance covers will help you make medical decisions, ensuring you choose the right providers and budget for any costs your insurance doesn’t cover.
When you visit a doctor, how much do you need to pay for the appointment and how much will your insurance pay for? A lot of people aren’t completely informed about what their insurance will and won’t take care of, which can end in disaster.
Check Out Assistance Options
It’s always worth checking to see if you’re eligible for any assistance programs that can make your medical insurance more affordable. If you’re over 65 or meet some other criteria, you could be eligible for Medicare. Medicare can then be supplemented with different private plans, which are lettered and standard across different providers.
You can see Plan F details here to get an idea of what a Medicare supplement could cover. There’s also Medicaid, which some people on a low income may be able to use. Who is eligible for Medicaid can depend on the state – in some, it’s available for all adults under a certain income level.
Negotiate Medical Bill Prices
Remember that medical costs aren’t always set in stone. In fact, it’s usually possible to negotiate what you have to pay and when. Many people work out a payment plan to spread the cost of medical expenses, while it’s also possible to get lower prices simply by asking for them. It’s sometimes a good idea to hire a medical billing advocate, especially if you’re looking at paying a large bill. They can help to make sure you’re not being overcharged. Sometimes you could be paying for something that’s already been paid for or included elsewhere in your bill. An advocate will cost you money, but if you’ve received a large bill, the savings you make will be worth it.
Try Using a Remote Doctor
Technology is helping to make some medical services more accessible. Although some people have reservations about it, using an app to talk to a doctor can save you time and money. It’s particularly useful for some things where you might only have been going to the doctor to see them face to face, perhaps to refill a prescription.
As well as using an app for a video call, you can also speak to a doctor over the phone in some cases. Some of these services are offered through insurance companies, or you can go straight to telemedicine providers for plans or one-off costs. However, it’s important to remember that there are times when seeing a doctor in person is the best option.
Check If You’re Qualified for Deductions
Some people are able to deduct medical expenses from their taxes. This helps you save money, although it only counts for out-of-pocket costs, not what you pay for your insurance. Medical expenses that amount to more than 10% of your gross income, or more than 7.5% if you’re 65 or older, can be deducted from your taxes.
Consider Not Using Your Insurance
In some cases, it might be better to pay cash for medical expenses, instead of going through your insurance. If you use your insurance to pay for something, they can negotiate a deal for you, but they’re not always looking out for your best interests.
Being able to pay in cash could help you negotiate a better deal because the medical provider won’t have to worry about waiting for your insurance company to cough up. Your balance will be settled right away, which puts you in a more favorable position for negotiating.
Is It Cheaper to Go Abroad?
In some cases, you can save money on a medical procedure by going to a different country. This can mean one of two things: either using another country’s universal medicine system, for which you will likely be expected to pay a fee as a foreigner, or using a private medical provider abroad. Both options could prove to be more affordable for expenses like surgery, even when you factor in travel and the cost of your stay. However, medical tourism isn’t always the right option, so it’s essential to think about it very carefully.
You can find a variety of ways to save on your medical expenses if you’re smart about it. You need to be able to understand how to manage your insurance first, though.