Over the past year, the debate over health care reform and what it actually means for Americans has been all over the news. As many Americans still remain divided over the passage of health care reform, consumers should be considering what they can do personally to control their health insurance costs.
Purchase the Right Health Insurance Plan
Consumers can choose between different health insurance plans to fit their needs and lower their costs. Some people may prefer a Health Maintenance Organization plan because it generally costs less. However, this kind of plan requires greater out-of-pocket costs when consumers want to see an out-of-network health care provider. For people looking for more flexibility when it comes to seeing various health care professionals, they should consider Preferred Provider Organizations.
Preferred Provider Organizations will usually cost consumers a little more but consumers do not have to pay as much when they see providers out of their network. Also with this type of plan, consumers can choose a plan that has a high deductible so they have monthly premiums and can open a Health Savings Account.
Health Savings Accounts help consumers save money tax-free for their medical expenses. The money saved in these accounts can even pay deductibles and help many people save money every year.
Talk to an Insurance Agent
It is important for any consumer that is looking to change their health insurance plan or wants to compare plans to talk to an insurance agent. Agents are professionals that will be able to assist consumers easily to help find a plan that fits their needs.
Consumers tend to forget about the additional benefits that they may need in their health insurance plan-like dental, vision or maternity benefits. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to purchasing health insurance.
Compare Health Insurance Plans
Another great way to save money on health care costs is to compare health insurance quotes online. Comparing health insurance plans help consumers see differences between their plans and cheaper plans. Sometimes consumers will realize that the cheaper plans may actually cost more in the long run.
Some consumers that have family health insurance plans may be able to purchase individual health insurance plans for their family if they have a sick family member. The sick family member could raise costs for the entire family.
Compare Costs of Health Care Prescriptions and Services
Once a consumer has a health insurance plan and is in need of a medical service, they should contact the health care providers in their network. Consumers can compare prices for different medical services and receive care from the most affordable provider. If a hospital knows that a consumer is comparing prices they are usually willing to negotiate a lower price for a medical service.
Prescription drug costs also vary between pharmacies. Consumers can contact pharmacies and compare costs to fill medical prescriptions. Some pharmacists are big proponents of pill-splitting which is a tactic used to save on prescription costs and can only be done with certain medications with the approval of a pharmacist.
Review Medical Bills
It is extremely important for consumers to check every medical bill that they receive to make sure that they were billed correctly. Both health insurance companies and health care providers make mistakes when billing patients and consumers can easily contact their health insurance company and physician about their bill.
As always it is important for consumers to try to eat healthy and exercise. In the past, medical care has been about curing and treating diseases-not preventing them. Public awareness over the importance of leading healthy lifestyles is growing and will hopefully change many behaviors that Americans have today. Leading a healthier lifestyle will help many Americans save on health care costs every year.
Only time will tell if the passed health reform legislation will cut health care costs or not. But in the meantime consumers can attempt to cut their own costs.