Eight Health Insurance Tips that Can Save You Money
Health insurance is something we don’t typically think about unless we’re shopping for it or getting a bill in the mail.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take that can help you save money on your health care expenses.
“Get to know your health insurance policy. By making use of free preventive services and understanding your network, you can reduce your health care costs and even experience better health,” said Jordan Anderson, Vice President of Sales and Account Management at Avera Health Plans.
Anderson shared eight tips for making the most of your health insurance:
- Understand which providers are in your network. If you visit a certain facility or provider, will your insurance cover it? It’s a question you should ask before seeking non-emergency medical attention. Out-of-network care can lead to higher out-of-pocket costs since your insurance plan only covers certain providers and facilities.
- Know when to use acute, urgent or emergency care. Going to the ER will cost you more than going to Urgent Care. According to the Health Care Cost Institute, on average, an emergency room visit costs $1,917, while urgent care averages only $155. Go to your regular clinic when minor injuries or illnesses occur during office hours. After hours, think about whether or not it can wait until the next morning. Urgent Care can handle issues that require immediate attention such as minor cuts and burns, sprains and broken bones, or respiratory issues. Critical issues such as chest pain, stroke symptoms, head injuries, trouble breathing or dangerously high fever warrant a trip to the emergency room.
- Read your summary of benefits and coverage (SBC). You pay a health insurance premium every month—so what are you getting for it? Your SBC can tell you. It’s a document that outlines the benefits and coverage of your plan. Contact your health insurance company if you have questions about what kinds of services are covered.
- Make use of preventive services. Many health insurance plans are required to cover certain services, even if you haven’t reached your deductible for the year. Certain tests and shots can save your life and might not cost you a dime. Contact your health insurance company if you have questions about what preventive services are covered for you.
- Check to see what kind of online access and resources your plan provides. Does your plan have an online portal that allows you to pay your bills, read your SBC or find important information on things like pharmacy benefits.
- Verify what kind of emergency transport is covered. Not all trips to the doctor are planned. Sometimes an emergency arises, and it might be serious enough to require fast transport to the nearest hospital. An emergency air transport membership—like those offered by Avera Careflight for just $49—can save you thousands in medical bills in the event you are flown to the ER.
- Check the cost of your prescriptions. Can you get a generic instead of brand name drug? An Association for Accessible Medicines study found that the average patient co-pay for a generic prescription is just over $6. You will likely face a higher co-pay for brand medications, so talk to your provider about which option is best for you.
- Check on coverage for out-of-area dependents. Do you or your dependents live outside your network area? For example, do you have a college student on your plan? Your insurance plan may offer out-of-area coverage that will give you and your dependents continuous in-network benefit coverage for certain services, even if you’re outside your in-network area.