If you’re like most of us, then your resolutions for the New Year include at least one of the following goals: taking steps to improve your health, visiting the doctor more regularly, or being more responsible with your finances. Fortunately, you can take care of all three resolutions at once if you follow these fiscally savvy health tips. Here are some steps you can take to manage your healthcare costs:
• Use an HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Account). Both HSA and FSA accounts are considered tax-advantaged medical savings accounts, which means funds contributed to the account will not be subject to income tax. This can be especially helpful if your healthcare plan has a high deductible. Using an HSA or FSA can save you money on medical and dental expenses not paid by insurance such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.
• If you’re experiencing a non-life threatening emergency like a sprain, cut, broken bone or minor illness, visit an urgent care facility instead of the emergency room. Urgent care centers like MedSpring can provide the fast, quality care at a fraction of the cost of an ER. A typical co-pay at the ER can cost from $100 to $200 or more, whereas the co-pays at an urgent care center are typically in the range of $35 to $50. So save the ER for real emergencies and use urgent care centers for injuries and illnesses not threatening to life, limb or vision. For more information about the differences between urgent care centers and emergency rooms, read “Top Tips: When to Skip the ER” by Jon Belsher, M.D., MedSpring’s Chief Medical Officer.
• Use generic drugs rather than brand name drugs. If your doctor prescribes you a medication, a simple but effective practice is to ask him or her if there’s a generic version available. For most popular drugs, there will be a generic brand comprised of the same ingredients as original version. While clinically equivalent, generic prescriptions can save $100 or more.
• Utilize your health insurance for free preventative care services. Most insurance plans now have a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay on preventative services such as annual woman wellness exams, mammograms, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, colorectal cancer screenings, flu shots, select immunizations and more. When in doubt, call your insurance company and ask what preventative services are available to you free of charge.
• Get on a regular exercise schedule and stick to it. Studies show that exercising regularly can help ward off a number of potentially serious health problems, like heart disease, stroke, obesity and even depression. Aside from the physical and mental boosts you’ll feel when adhering to a consistent exercise routine, you’ll ultimately save a lot of money on medical expenses. When you take better care of yourself, you’ll get sick less often and won’t have to spend as much money on doctor visits and medication.