Learn how to use the healthcare system and save money.

Regardless of whether you purchase your own health insurance or get employer sponsored insurance, how you use the US healthcare system will effect your cost this year and beyond. 

So we have a few tips that will help you save money on healthcare services this year and health insurance premiums in future years. 

Five tips to help you save money on healthcare:

1/ Buy enough insurance and use what you need.

Commercial policies provide richer benefits than government programs. However, the more benefits included in the policy and the more you use, the more you pay in the following year. Historical claims experience drives premiums.

If you’re lucky to still have your health insurance paid in full by your employer, you should still be mindful of how you use your benefits to keep the perk. Due to rising healthcare costs, many employers are starting to shift the cost to employees through higher premium contributions, higher deductibles and/or higher co-insurance and co-pay rates.

2/ Use Medicare payments as a benchmark.

Commercial insurers whether provided by your employer or purchased from the exchanges, pay more than government programs for healthcare services. That means you pay more than someone on Medicare or Medicaid for the same service. However, the Medicare rates serve as a good benchmark. Commercial rates are often a multiple of Medicare [ie: Medicare x 150%]. Shop for the best deal using sites that provide a range of rates for providers in your zip code to help guide your decision.

3/ Avoid out-of-network costs whenever possible.

Healthcare providers [aka: doctors, hospitals and other providers] participate in insurance networks. The network providers offer discounts in exchange for patient volume. Most insurers have a large network of providers. However, some providers choose not to participate or do not participate fully. Be careful if your policy includes out-of-network benefits.

Some people get tricked into using out-of-network providers that charge extraordinary high fees because they are told it will cost them nothing. Just so you know, it’s likely an insurance scam and possibly even fraud. 

The best thing to do is to ask for an estimate prior to service and review the charges, expected discounts and expected payment from your insurer. Compare the expected payment to Medicare to evaluate whether or not it’s a reasonable cost.

4/ Don’t automatically do what your friends do.

Do your research and get a second opinion if you have doubts about a care plan. There have been some high profile cases of people undergoing medical procedures that they didn’t need. It happens more than we all would like to think because healthcare providers are paid when they provide service. 

The way healthcare providers are paid is changing but change in healthcare happens at slowly. In the mean time, do your research and get a second opinion for major services and expensive services.

5/ Reduce your health risks this year.

Take a more proactive approach to healthcare. Choose a physician or other provider who will help you reduce your health risks this year. The effort you put in this year will help lower your healthcare to help reduce your healthcare expenses next year.

Even if you don’t care about saving money, you will save time and increase your energy. With more time and energy, you’ll have time and energy for fun!

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