We all try to find the best bang for our buck,however there are times when cheaper isn’t always better. Find out how in this case Healthcare is one of those things you need to be careful with when you go cheaper.
Picking the right health insurance plan isn’t easy, especially if you need to control costs to save money. Different levels of coverage are available, which makes it easier to budget healthcare costs.
While some plans offer low monthly premiums, which are attractive if you have a limited budget, some of the plans that have cheaper premiums also have drawbacks in the terms and conditions that are quite costly.
Even Higher Coverage Levels May Have Costly Pitfalls
When choosing a healthcare plan, it’s important to compare the terms of each plan before you make a decision. Each insurance provider has terms and conditions to the plans that they offer, even if you have a plan with high coverage levels. For example, prescription drug coverage is a popular component of many healthcare plans, but exclusions and other conditions can lead to unexpectedly high out-of-pocket costs.
To ensure that you are saving money when you fill your prescriptions, you will want to understand which medications are covered by the insurer before you select a specific plan. Pay special attention to discover if certain classes of drugs that your doctor typically prescribes fare excluded or have special conditions in your plan.
For example, some plans exclude specialty compound drugs, or limit the amount of coverage for these formulas. Many healthcare plans only pay for fills of the generci version of name brand drugs.
If your health insurance requires generics to be filled, an online identifier such as Pill ID can help ensure you are saving money based on the quantity of medication filled. Sites like these can help you recognize the generic medication based on its labeling and appearance, while also helping you learn more about the specific ingredients and actions of the drug prescribed.
While most generics are equivalent in action and risk panel to the name brand, there are a few notable exceptions that patients may wish to discuss with their pharmacist, doctor or other healthcare provider before filling the generic form of the prescription.
Those with Chronic Health Concerns May Save More Overall with Higher Premium/Higher Coverage Tiers
Another popular way that healthcare consumers attempt to save money is by choosing a healthcare plan with a low monthly premium. While this may help them to save money upfront, going with a cheaper plan can actually cost more money over the long term.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance is available for individuals and their dependents to purchase on the healthcare exchange in four broad metal tiers of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Under the ACA, a limited number of individuals are also eligible to purchase health care plans that offer catastrophic care coverage. Like the lower tiers, catastrophic care features lower monthly premiums but higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs.
With each tier, the insured will be responsible for paying a different percentage of the co-pays, deductibles and out of pocket costs. In general, the lower, bronze tier of coverage features a lower monthly premium as compared to the higher tiers. The insured, however, is generally left responsible for paying a greater share of their co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs than they would have been had they chosen to elect coverage under a higher metal tier, such as gold.
Individuals and families that have chronic health issues that require regular medications and other treatments may be better off choosing a plan with a higher tier of coverage, and pay a higher monthly premium upfront, in order to pay less in total out-of-pocket costs.
Stay in Network to Help Control Out-of-Pocket Costs
Not all doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other facilities participate in all insurance plans. If your provider is out-of-network, your plan will only cover a reduced amount of the costs, so stick with in-network providers to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
Information is Power
A final strategy to help reduce the cost of your healthcare is to become an informed consumer. Learn about any health conditions that you have, and consider adopting a healthier lifestyle to reduce the risk of illness. Ask your healthcare provider to explain why specific tests and treatments are necessary. Ask if there are alternative therapies that may be just as beneficial but less costly to use. Go over your healthcare bills and statements to check for errors and don’t be afraid to ask providers if they offer discounts for upfront and cash payments.