If you suspect health care costs are rising faster than your paycheck, you’re not wrong. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the last 10 years, average family health care premiums have increased 54%, while wages have risen just 26%.
Even though employers pick up part of the tab, workers on average are contributing $6,015 annually toward the cost of family coverage.
There are several ways to save on your medical bills without sacrificing care. Here’s how to take control of your family’s health care costs and save money.
Check prescription savings websites
Insurance companies are passing more of the cost of drugs to customers. So, saving on prescriptions is a good way to cut out overall costs. Consider using a website like GoodRx to find cheaper medications.
The website allows a shopper to compare the cost of prescriptions across pharmacies in the shopper’s area. Since there is no regulation of prescription drug prices, costs can differ greatly.
GoodRx says its average customer saves $355 a year on prescriptions.
Check out other great websites that can save you money on medications in “5 Websites to Check Before Buying Prescription Drugs.”
Consider a direct primary care practice
What if you could pay one monthly price to get access to your doctor as often as you want? This is the idea behind direct primary care practices, which can be found in many large metropolitan areas.
Direct primary care practices operate on a Netflix subscription model — essentially, you pay one monthly fee whether or not you use the service. You don’t have to worry about insurance or deductibles.
Shop around for procedures
Shopping around for medical procedures can save you a bundle. This is especially true for larger procedures, where the difference in cost among providers can be thousands of dollars.
Most people with private health insurance don’t research prices before going in for a major procedure, as we detail in “99% of Us Make This Costly Health Care Mistake.”
Don’t just assume the facility your doctor recommends has the best price. Pick up the phone and call providers in your area that accept your insurance and offer the medical procedure you need. You can also go online and use CarePay’s price comparison tool to estimate costs.
If you need a service your insurance won’t cover, don’t just accept that you have to pay the cost in full. Medical providers often hike up the prices of services they bill to insurance companies because of the added paperwork.
Tell the medical office that you’re paying cash for a service and ask for a discount. Besides a lower bill, you might be able to negotiate a no-interest payment plan to spread your payments over a few months.
Sign up for a flexible spending account or a health savings account
Even with insurance, health care costs can add up. Paying with pretax dollars can give you a nice discount on medical expenses.
If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) for medical expenses, consider signing up. For 2019, you can contribute up to $2,700 a year in pretax income to pay for prescriptions, doctor visit co-pays, medical procedures and more.
For those with high-deductible insurance plans, opening a health savings account (HSA) may be an option. Just like FSAs, you can fund an HSAs using pretax dollars. However, HSAs offer two advantages over FSAs — higher contribution limits and the ability to carry over your HSA balance from year to year.
HSA contribution limits for 2020 are $3,550 for an individual and $7,100 for a family.
How do you save money on out-of-pocket health care costs? Share your advice in the comments below or on our Facebook page.