Healthcare Expenses That Can Ruin Your Budget
3 min read •
30 sec brief
Budgeting is one of life’s necessary evils. Spending a lot on health insurance is never fun—especially when your budget is already tight. As much as you may dislike tracking every last dollar, it's one of the best ways to stay on track. Fixed expenses may be easier to plan for. But unexpected healthcare bills? Well, that's another story. Here's how to prevent these surprise medical expenses from derailing your financial progress.
…and How to Fix Them
Budgeting is one of life’s necessary evils. As much as you may dislike tracking every last dollar, it’s one of the best ways to stay on track. Fixed expenses may be easier to plan for. But unexpected healthcare bills? Well, that’s another story. Here’s how to prevent these surprise medical expenses from derailing your financial progress.
1. High monthly health insurance premiums
Spending a lot on health insurance is never fun—especially when your budget is already tight. If your employer doesn’t pay for your policy, you may struggle to find an affordable plan on your own.
When you are reeling from sticker shock, there are a couple of ways you may be able to save on premiums. If you are healthy and don’t use insurance a lot, consider a high-deductible plan. Another way to save money is by nixing your smoking habit. According to Healthcare.gov, insurers may charge smokers a premium of 50% more.
2. Overpaying for prescriptions
When you are living with a chronic illness, it can be expensive to pay for ongoing prescriptions. Luckily, there are a few ways to make it cheaper. Start by asking your doctor if generic drugs are an option. If not, there may be another choice with a generic pick. You can also ask for a larger supply, like 90 days vs. 30 days, and fill it at a major drugstore chain. GoodRx.com is an excellent way to compare cash prices.
3. Missing costly errors on your medical bills
In a perfect world, you would never have to worry about medical codes and insurance coverage. But, unfortunately, billing errors do happen. Before opening your wallet, compare your bills—line-by-line—with your explanation of benefits statement. If something looks wrong, don’t be afraid to call your insurance company.
4. Paying extra for unnecessary in-person visits
As technology improves, more doctors are offering telehealth services. Instead of taking time off for an in-person appointment, it may be possible to do it by telephone or video. Even if your routine visits don’t wind up being cheaper, it may save you from driving across town.
5. Seeing out-of-network providers
Sometimes, it’s tough to avoid doctors outside of your health insurance network. The problem is, these doctors are often a lot more expensive—leaving you with a massive bill to pay for. If possible, spend time researching providers before scheduling appointments. You can double-check by calling the doctor’s office first. They should be able to confirm whether they accept your health insurance.
7. Skipping a health savings account (HSA) if you are eligible
If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may be able to open a health savings account (HSA). These accounts allow you to save for healthcare pre-tax. You may have the option to invest and grow your HSA money tax-free. As an added bonus, you can withdraw the money for qualified medical expenses without a penalty.
Be proactive with your healthcare strategy
You may be eager to cut healthcare costs wherever possible. But ignoring minor health problems is only going to make things worse. A small toothache can turn into thousands of dollars of dental work. Or, your lingering cough may signal something more serious. If something isn’t right, don’t put off going to the doctor. It may only lead to bigger, more expensive problems in the future.
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