First, it’s important to get to know your health insurance plan inside and out. Check out your benefits guide and remember to ask questions if you don’t understand anything. Most companies have health insurance representatives who can answer your questions. On top of that, whether you’ve had a HDHP for two months or two years, you may benefit from a few of these cost-saving tips.
1) Use your FSA or HSA to pay
If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), you should strongly consider taking advantage of the option.
You can contribute money from your own paycheck towards your FSA or HSA—and your contributions are not subject to payroll taxes. This means you end up paying less in taxes and getting to use more of your paycheck for qualified medical expenses.
Some employers can also contribute to your FSA or HSA account. Many companies offer contributions as an incentive if you successfully complete a health assessment, biometric screening, or online health profile.
Both FSA and HSA accounts allow you pay for qualified healthcare expenses like prescription and over-the-counter medications and copays for doctor’s visits, among other things. Check out a list of qualified expenses here.
Important: If you’re far from meeting your deductible and can’t afford to pay in cash for medical expenses, using your FSA or HSA savings instead could help.
2) Take advantage of employee incentives
Many companies offer incentives like free healthcare or biometric screenings to make sure their employees are staying healthy. These screenings usually involve a finger-prick test that gives you an idea of your total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, and blood sugar. Your height, weight, and waist circumference may also be used to calculate your body mass index (BMI) to show whether you should focus on weight loss.
Lifestyle modifications are hard work but in the long run, could potentially prevent you from getting chronic conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, which in turn saves you money!
Important: If you don’t usually go to the doctor unless you’re sick, basic health screenings can give you an idea of how your health is doing and where you might need to improve.
3) Use manufacturer coupons
Coupons are often offered by the manufacturers of brand-name medications to help reduce the cost of expensive medications if you have insurance. You may see these coupons in your doctor’s office, but if not, you can find them online on the manufacturer’s website if they’re available.
If you’re struggling to meet your deductible, manufacturer coupons can be extremely helpful. You can use them even during your deductible period, and the total price of your prescription will be applied towards your deductible in most cases—not just your final out-of-pocket cost.
Tip: Use GoodRx to determine which pharmacy in your area sells your medication for the lowest price. Starting with a lower cash price at the pharmacy will get you the most bang for your buck, especially when pairing it with a manufacturer’s coupon. (Keep in mind, though: You can’t combine manufacturer coupons with GoodRx discounts.)
Important: Remember to read the fine print on manufacturer’s coupons to make sure you qualify. For example, most offers are not available if you have Medicare or Medicaid prescription insurance.
4) Ask your doctor about cheaper alternatives
If you’re taking an expensive brand medication, ask your pharmacist or doctor if a cheaper alternative exists. That one question could save you a lot, especially if your drug has a generic. According to the FDA, generics are on average 85% cheaper than brand medications.
The savings aren’t just for generic alternatives though. If you take a brand-name combination medication (with two or more active ingredients), you can sometimes find savings by taking two separate medications instead. Many combination acne creams, for example, are simply a pairing of two inexpensive generics.
People with diabetes may also have a good cheaper alternative when it comes to insulin and test strips. If you use Novolin N, Novolin R or Novolin 70/30 you may want to consider Walmart’s brand ReliOn insulins. They are comparable to the Novolin products and cost about 80% less. Generic store-brand glucose monitors from stores like CVS or Walmart can also help you save big. These glucose monitors cost around $15.00, and test strips for them cost around $20.00 for a box of 100. Compare this to glucose monitors like OneTouch—OneTouch test strips cost around $100.00 or more for a box of 100.
Important: Purchasing ReliOn insulin or a generic monitor and test strips at Walmart won’t count towards your deductible. However, it will still leave more money in your pocket for other necessities.
5) Take advantage of benefits after meeting your deductible
Once you meet your deductible, there are still plenty of ways you can still save. For example, make sure to fill your prescriptions on a regular basis since your insurance is now paying for them. This can be a big help, especially for expensive products like diabetes test strips. Even if you don’t use the full amount you fill every month, you will have them for the future.
You can also check to see if your employer offers any programs like medication therapy management (MTM), disease state management, dietician services, weight loss support or stress management programs to help you manage your current conditions at low or no cost to you.
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