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How to Pay for Health Care Costs

The cost of prescription medication in the U.S. has risen astronomically, leaving many Americans struggling to pay for necessary medicine. However, medications are just one part of the healthcare landscape. The cost of health care coverage has also skyrocketed in recent years. 

If you find yourself going without healthcare coverage or care because of the high cost, there’s good news – discounts and low-cost options are available. You may be able to save significantly on healthcare costs by accessing and applying for all the discounts to which you may be eligible.  

How to Get Discounted Prescription Medications

Prescription medications are one of the largest sources of concern for most Americans. In fact, prices for medications have increased by more than 100% over the last 10 years. This could lead to patients not taking their medications as often as prescribed because they are trying to make the medication last longer due to the high cost. 

Generic medications can help lower the cost, but what if you are unable to take the generic equivalent, or there is no generic equivalent? Pharmacy discount cards are one way you can get the same medications, but for less. Often, you can use these cards in addition to your regular health insurance. 

Using In-Network Providers Could Save You Thousands

If you have health insurance, you may see the term “in-network providers” on some of your insurance documents. An in-network provider is a doctor or healthcare facility that has partnered with your insurance company to provide health care services, often at a lower price. 

By using an in-network provider, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars in the form of copayments or coinsurance. Out-of-network providers, on the other hand, may charge more for their services because they do not have an agreement with your insurance company. Depending on your health insurance policy, you may be able to browse in-network providers online to find a doctor in your area. 

Taking Advantage of Preventive Healthcare Services

Preventive healthcare refers to certain services that are meant to prevent illness, injury, and poor health. For example, attending an annual physical with your primary care doctor is one form of preventive healthcare. Other types of services include health screenings and immunizations.

Utilizing preventive services can help you stay healthy and may even prevent problems altogether. Many preventive services are free and required by most health plans as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning you can generally access these important services regardless of your policy. 

Saving Money on the Healthcare Marketplace

The Healthcare Marketplace is a vast ocean of information that can be overwhelming to try and sort through. It is all too easy to just select the first recommended plan and be done. However, this strategy isn’t always the best option, and it could cost you hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars each year.

If you have a lower income, the marketplace can offer substantial subsidies. Plus, the more people living in your household, the more subsidies you may be able to get. Subsidies help offset the high cost of health insurance premiums. In some instances, you may even be able to get the complete cost of your healthcare paid for.

To get started, you can fill out the Marketplace application. You can only enroll during specific times throughout the year, and changes may be allowed if you meet certain criteria.

You Could Get Affordable Healthcare With Medicare or Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid are often confused or used interchangeably. However, they are two separate programs with different benefits and program criteria. Medicare covers most Americans’ medical needs upon turning age 65. Medicare eligibility is based on an individual’s work history, age, and Social Security taxes paid over the years. 

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a healthcare plan that is offered to those with lower incomes or disabilities. Medicaid eligibility is not based on your age, like Medicare. Both of these health plans offer many ways to save, such as through various discounts, drug plans, and other cost savings programs.

Other ways to save money on Medicare may surprise you. First, when you first sign up for Medicare, you may search out the lowest plan premium and call it done. Unfortunately, this can actually run you more in the long run. What you want to focus on is the plan’s cost, not the premium you pay each month. That premium may be low because it does not cover such things as copays, deductibles or coinsurance.

Also, check the formulary. This is a list of covered medications that is published each year (and can change each year). Reject plans that do not cover the medications you regularly need, or offer preventative medicine. Additional services such as dental, vision and hearing may cost you extra, while with Medicaid dental is often included.

Saving Money With the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) 

CHIP, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a version of Medicaid that is available for minor children. Oftentimes, families who do not meet the income threshold for Medicaid can still have their children qualify for CHIP healthcare. 

Even if you do not think you qualify for CHIP, it may be a good idea to complete an application just to check. And, in some states, CHIP covers the cost of healthcare for pregnant women for a specific length of time. You don’t need to wait for an enrollment period – you can apply for CHIP in your state anytime throughout the year. 

Comparing Generic Meds vs Brand-Name Meds

It is a common misconception that all generic medications are cheaper than name brand drugs. In many instances, with the available discounts and store based rx coupons, not to mention online pharmacies, you can get name brand-name medications cheaper than their generic equivalent. It pays to shop around and compare before buying.

While the active ingredients in both generic and brand-name meds are the same, the inactive ingredients are not. This is why some people cannot take generic brand medication, because they may be allergic to the inactive ingredients.

Oftentimes, the cash price of the generic drug and the insurance co-pay for the branded drug are the same at the pharmacy. However, many generic medications are at least 20% cheaper (or more). The lower cost is often attributed to lower research and development costs of the pharmaceutical company.

When to Use Mail Order Pharmacies Over Traditional Pharmacies

Many industries have moved toward a more robust online presence in the last few years, and pharmacies have followed suit. Many consumers use online pharmacies because they offer safe and easy access to medications that come right to the door. Ordering is easy, straightforward and only requires the user to have valid mail order prescriptions. 

You may even be able to set up auto-refill for your medications, eliminating the need for you to reorder each month. But how do they stack up to traditional pharmacies? When it comes to cost, they are often lower because online pharmacies have less overhead.Traditional pharmacies also don’t usually offer delivery. 

However, online pharmacies present a higher risk of scams. You can often avoid scams by looking for the Digital Pharmacy Accreditation number or logo. It is often referred to as a VIPPS number. This means that the pharmacy has met state licensure laws.

All legitimate online pharmacies require you to submit a prescription before they will fill your request. Often, the online pharmacies contact your doctor’s office directly and can get the prescription in this way.  

Are HSA or FSA Accounts Worth It?

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were originally created to offer consumers a way to defray the costs of healthcare. But there are advantages and disadvantages to this program. The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) works similarly, but offers several additional options. Are they right for you? Here’s what to consider:

  • To open an HSA or FSA, you must be currently enrolled in a high-deductible healthcare plan.
  • If you maintain an HSA into your retirement age, then you can withdraw money without penalty.
  • Any unused money rolls over into the next year with an HSA, but this is not possible with FSAs. 
  • Any funds in your HSA are not taxed.
  • Not all banks offer HSAs.
  • HSAs must be closed after you reach age 65, when you begin receiving Medicare.
  • Your employer can contribute to the HSA.

With an HSA or FSA, you may be able to haggle with the health facility on their pricing. It can be beneficial to learn how to negotiate a medical bill because most doctors have some discretion when it comes to setting prices. They may give you discounts for annual checkups or preventative services.

Learn How To Find Affordable Health Care With our Guide

As an independent and private company, we are proud to help our users learn about saving.

  • Get Free Information with Our Guide
  • Take our optional survey to receive, based on your answers, related offers from our partners!
  • Keep Updated with Curated Content