Other than routine health care costs, such as annual exams, which are covered in standard medical plans, there will be those occasions when you may incur unexpected medical costs due to injury or illness. Since these costs may be recurring for some time, you will want to look for ways to save money to help ease the recovery burden on your wallet.
Here are some tips on how to save money on those items:
- Use your preferred provider. This cannot be stressed enough. Plans will often cap out-of-network expense reimbursements before you reach a maximum out-of-pocket threshold. If you are able to plan a doctor's visit ahead of time, be sure to visit your plan's website or call their hotline, to ensure your doctor is in-network.
- Keep all receipts - credit / debit card and itemized doctor's expenses. In the event of a claim, you will want to be able to prove your expenses with detailed documentation of all the expenses incurred. After my car accident injury a few years ago, I utilized Google Docs to itemize all of my expenses and receipts. I cannot state enough how much easier the claims were to file because I was organized. Since the burden was on me to prove that I was not at fault (I wasn't), I had to be extra detailed.
- Use a health savings account or flexible spending account. If your plan allows HSA or FSA participation, these can be very helpful for paying additional expenses, such as bandaging, medical devices, and prescriptions. These accounts provide pre-tax vehicles to save money on medical expenses. And, if you have an HSA, you can carry that money going forward and even invest it in the stock market to help your balance grown that much more. The list of eligible expense inclusions changes periodically, so you will want to be mindful of that. Again, keep your receipts. The IRS will require you to prove the expense was eligible if you are audited.
- Use discounted gift cards at drug stores. For all of those one-off expenses such as aspirin, bandages, ice packs, and other consumables blunt those costs by buying a gift card for stores like CVS or Walgreens. These will help you save money and blunt some of the impact of your unexpected medical care. I routinely save 15% or more just by using discounted gift cards.
These are just a few of many tips to follow that can help you prevent insult to injury when you incur unexpected medical costs.
What are some of your ideas?