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5 Tips for managing health care costs

If your monthly health insurance bill is making you sick, we’ve got a few helpful money-saving tips to cut your health care costs and get the most out of your health insurance plan.
If your monthly health insurance bill is making you sick, we’ve got a few helpful money-saving tips to cut your health care costs and get the most out of your health insurance plan.

Health care costs are rising

With the spiraling cost of health care these days, just one unexpected illness can bust a lean budget and leave you hurting for more money to cover your medical bills. Adding confusion to an already stressful situation, those bills and Explanation of Benefit (EOB) statements seem to just pile up in your mailbox with no end in sight. In fact, out-of-pocket health care costs in the U.S. are up 50 percent over the last five years. The average family spends more than $3,000 per year beyond their monthly premiums. However, instead of feeling frustrated, take charge of your health care costs by using your insurance wisely.

5 Tips for managing health care costs
1. Do stay in-network

Many health insurance plans, such as HMOs, will only cover services by providers who are in their network. Or, a PPO plan may offer significantly more coverage for in-network providers, sometimes as much as 30 to 50 percent more than if you choose to go to an out-of-network doctor.

“You should always check to make sure every doctor you see is in-network by calling their office and confirming before you schedule an appointment,” says Tomer Shoval, CEO and co-founder of and a consumer health insurance expert.

2. Do get authorization first

Some health insurance plans require you to have a referral from your primary care physician in order to see a specialist. Make sure to check your plan details and get this authorization before making an appointment to see a specialist.
“This is one of the biggest mistakes consumers make. Even if one doctor refers you to another specialist, you should always confirm that you have the necessary authorization from your insurance provider before you book your appointment,” stresses Shoval.
3. Do track your deductible

Know how much your yearly deductible is and when you have met it. If you meet your deductible towards the end of the year and still plan on many more procedures and doctor’s visits, try to schedule them within the year so that you do not need to meet the deductible all over again in the New Year. 
Shoval notes, “You also need to remember, there may be a separate deductible for in-network versus out-of-network providers or for prescription drugs.” 
4. Do track your spending and bills in one place

A service like securely links to your health insurance plan and transforms it into a clean, easy-to-read dashboard for tracking and controlling spending, reducing paperwork. Simplee’s service helps you understand what you’re responsible for and what’s been paid by your insurance, shows you the status of your deductible and your family’s medical spending for the past year.
“To find ways to save, you need to understand how much you spend,” explains Shoval. “You’ll be surprised at how healthcare spending adds up when you track it all in one place.”
5. Do ask about generic alternatives

When your doctor prescribes you a new medication, ask if there is generic alternative available that will be suitable for your treatment – generics cost much less than brand name drugs and are just as effective.

“In addition to talking with your physician and pharmacist, you also can research the medications you are prescribed at or,” Shoval adds.

Bonus tip: Do pay your bills on time

Just like any other household bill, medical bills have due dates. Late fees and interest add up to more money out of your wallet.

“Medical bills are classified as unsecured debt, exactly the same as utility bills, credit card debt and payday loans. Not paying medical bills on time can negatively affect your credit score,” warns Shoval. “If you are unable to pay your bill in full, contact your healthcare provider and work out a payment plan.”

Unlike most other things you purchase, hospitals and physicians generally don’t have a set “sticker price” for procedures and visits. Instead, they negotiate different prices with each insurance plan they contract with on behalf of patients. Because there is a lack of transparency in the marketplace, it is difficult to know where to turn for reliable information and the ability to track costs associated with general healthcare. Managing your healthcare costs can be easier than you think with a plan in place and by following these tips to keep a few more dollars in your wallet.

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