For many people, paying for health insurance and medical costs is one of their largest expenses each month. Here’s how we save on those items.

Stay healthy

We all get tired of hearing this but the truth is, if you take care of yourself — eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise — you are less likely to get sick. Your immune system is stronger when you take care of yourself. You don’t get sick as much and when you do get sick, it doesn’t last as long. Not being sick as often is the best way to save on medical costs.

Think before you immediately head to the doctor or the emergency room

Now if you have a medical emergency or you or a member your family is very ill, of course you need to go to the doctor or the emergency room. But if it’s not an emergency or a serious illness, think about whether you can take care of it with a phone call. Most medical clinics offer telehealth for their patients for free or at a reduced cost.

Combine a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA)

Premiums on a HDHP are less than one with a lower deductible. If you are relatively healthy (because you eat right, get enough sleep and exercise), then this is a great option to save money. Put the money you save into a health savings account and let it build up to pay the medical expenses that your insurance doesn’t pay. For more information on health savings accounts, check out my blog from last month:

Membership in a medical service

We pay a small monthly fee for this membership which gives us access to telehealth medical providers, urgent care facilities, and stand-alone clinics. Instead of paying $150 or more to visit our regular doctor for minor illnesses and injuries, we call telehealth at no cost, or visit a care facility that is part of the network and pay a fee that is at least 85% less than what we would pay if we went to our regular doctor. Of course, services are limited at these facilities and we still visit our regular doctor for serious illnesses. We also go to our regular doctor for annual exams; our insurance pays 100% for these visits.

Caution: a membership in these types of programs is not insurance and nothing will be submitted to your regular health insurance company. Consequently, what you pay for visits through this type of program will not apply towards meeting your insurance deductible. You should also have the facility send the information about your visit to your regular doctor so your medical records are complete.

Combine an insurance policy without prescription benefits with a membership fee at your pharmacy

If you have some medications that you take regularly this action could possibly save you hundreds of dollars a year. What we save on one 90-day supply of one medication that I take more than pays for the annual cost of this membership. And our health insurance is cheaper because we don’t have the prescription benefits. This is a big win for us.

Now it’s your turn — how do you save on your medical costs?

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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