5 ways to lower your health care spending

Americans spent $3.65 trillion on health care in 2018, an increase of 4.4% over 2017! Tackle rising costs with these tips to help you stay healthy and spend less at the same time.

  1. Get a checkup every year. Yes, even if you feel healthy! Preventive care is free when you stay in-network, so there’s no excuse to skip it. Routine checkups, vaccines, and screenings can help your doctor catch potential issues early, before they become more serious problems. Use the myhealthfinder" tool to see which services are recommended for your age and gender.
  2. Avoid surprises. Check with your health insurance company to make sure a service is covered before you receive care. And try to stay in-network whenever possible so your plan will cover a greater percentage of your costs. Visit your health plan’s website to find in-network doctors that meet your criteria.
  3. Shop around for care. It’s hard to believe how much health care costs can vary in the same city — just take a look at the examples below. That’s why it pays to do a little research before you schedule an appointment. For specific cost information, log in to your health plan’s website or call your insurance company. Or, look up the “fair price” for services in your area at healthcarebluebook.com.

     ServiceLowHigh
     Basic blood panel$14$70+
    Chest X-ray$25$794+
    Orthodontist visit$148$463+
    Full dental crown$698$2,155+
    ER visit, moderate problem$1,014$4,894+
    Cesarean section delivery$4,256$52,818+

     

  4. Stop overpaying for prescriptions. Visit your prescription plan’s website to look up the cost of a drug. Use a site like goodrx.com to find the best prices near you. And ask for a generic drug when your doctor prescribes a new medication. Generics have the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts and meet the same safety and quality standards — but they cost about 80% to 85% less.
  5. Use tax-free accounts. Depending on your medical plan, you may be able to contribute to a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). These accounts save you money on your eligible health care expenses because you’re paying with tax-free dollars from your paycheck. The HSA has a unique advantage — unlike FSAs, which have a “use it or lose it” rule, all the money in your HSA rolls over each year and is always yours to keep. That means you can use it to build tax-free savings for your future health expenses, even in retirement.

Sources: A report from Axios, as reported in Fortune.com; US Food and Drug Administration; npr.org; healthcarebluebook.com; www.healthaffairs.org