When it comes to saving money, everyone is looking for ways to cut back on their spending without reducing their quality of life. The good news is that little savings can add up over time – and if made consistently across various aspects of one’s life. While it is certain that no one should sacrifice their health in order to save a few dollars, there are some safe and sure-fire ways to save a significant amount of money off of health expenses if consumers are willing to do some research and negotiate.
Here are a few ways that consumers can save some extra cash each month (or year) by making small changes, researching options, and discussing prices or payment options:
Switch to a Health Savings Account
A Health Savings Account is a popular way for many people to pay for their healthcare while saving thousands of dollars each year off of the cost of their healthcare insurance. With a Health Savings Account, individuals will enroll in a high deductible health insurance plan that generally has low monthly premiums. They can then deposit money into the account every month with annual maximum totals. Whenever individuals have health expenses, such as a doctor’s visit, they can use the money from the Health Savings Account to pay for those expenses.
So how does the Health Savings Account save consumers money? In a few ways. First, consumers will save money by having lower insurance premiums each month. Health Savings Accounts are used in conjunction with a high deductible health insurance plan. Since the deductibles on HSA plans are higher, their monthly premiums are much lower than traditional insurance planss.
Second, consumers can use their Health Savings Account like an IRA by investing the savings into money market accounts, stocks, and other high interest yielding vehicles. Consumers will not pay taxes on this money if it is used to pay for medical expenses. However, they can always withdraw the money from the savings account to use for other expenses (they just pay taxes when they withdraw the money if they don’t use it for medical expenses.)
Also, the money that individuals deposit into a Health Savings Account reduces their income tax burden each year by the amount that they deposit into the Health Savings Account. This means that individuals with Health Savings Accounts will have lower tax burdens.
Speak with the doctor about the services or bill
With a Health Savings Account, you are in control of your own healthcare expenses. It is in your best interest to always find the best deals. In some cases, individuals are able to reduce their medical bills by speaking with their doctors or dentists about services and payments. This may be especially true if the service fees have increased from previous years. It’s always recommended that individuals discuss rates for services before those services are performed in order to determine if there are more affordable solutions that are available.
Also, when healthcare providers are aware of financial considerations prior to performing work, they may be able to suggest alternatives or tips for avoiding having to do the work. For example, a dentist may be able to suggest a prescription tooth paste that can prevent cavities and be used now if a patient is especially concerned about developing expensive cavities down the road.
Additionally, consumers should keep in mind that some doctors and dentists will accept the payment from an insurance company without requiring patients to pay additional fees. If a patient does need to pay additional fees beyond what an insurance company has paid, the patient may be able to negotiate lower fees if he or she speaks with a healthcare provider about the bill before paying. Often, when healthcare providers reduce or eliminate patient fees after the insurance company has sent payment, this process is called a “professional courtesy.” Many consumers may be surprised by how common they are.
Gym membership and personal training
Many people have monthly gym memberships or personal trainers that they turn to for help staying in shape – or getting in shape. Having a gym membership may also help many people to reduce their insurance costs if they are enrolled in an insurance program that provides a monetary incentive for joining a gym. However, unless consumers have access to a free gym through work, they can expect to pay at least $30 a month for membership in most cases. Working out with a personal trainer can more than triple that monthly expense.
The good news for folks looking to save some extra cash each month is that the fitness market is flooded with options and programs for individuals with all types of budgets. One of the ways to take advantage of this market saturation is to research different options.
For example, some gym members may be able to save money by working with a personal trainer on-site at the gym rather than hiring the personal trainer to work off-site on a routine. Individuals may also be able to save money off of personal training costs by only using a personal trainer for weights and by doing cardiovascular training on their own.
Gym members can find out if there is a reduced rate for committing to a long-term contract – as long as they know they are willing to commit to the gym for several months down the road.
While it is important for consumers to remember that staying healthy often requires financial commitment, consumers should keep in mind that doing the right research and taking time to discuss options with healthcare providers and insurance companies can go a long way in helping them significantly reduce their spending.
With a combination of the right insurance plans, knowledge about options they may have with healthcare providers, and making the right fitness resource choices, consumers should generally be able to find ways to save money each month. They should also keep in mind that a small savings each month results in a larger savings over a prolonged period of time and may be well worth the research and negotiating efforts!
By Wiley Long – President, HSA for America – The nation’s leading independent health insurance agency specializing in individual and family HSA plans that works with a Health Savings Account.