As you plan your spending for the coming months, it’s important to consider the impact that health care costs are likely to have on your bottom line. The average household spends more than $8,000 a year on health care, and for many households, that’s too much.
If you are interested in reducing your costs, here are some strategies that might help you:
1. Take Advantage of Preventative Care
Because of health care reform, health insurance companies have to cover one preventative care treatment a year for you. Take advantage of this, and go in to see what problems you might have. Preventative care can go a surprisingly long way toward reducing costs later. If you take care of a problem before it becomes too big, you can save money in the long run.
2. Raise Your Deductible
In some cases, you might be able to increase the amount you pay out of pocket for health care services. The more you are willing to pay out of pocket, the lower your health insurance premium will be.
This strategy only works if you make relatively few health care visits in a year. If you have a chronic condition that requires multiple visits and prescriptions, a higher deductible likely won’t help your situation. But for many families, paying more up front can provide savings over time.
3. Get Generics
Ask if there are generic versions of prescriptions that you are taking. My son’s pediatrician prescribed a great generic that costs only $5 for one of my son’s coughs. It works great, and it’s something that is easy to pay for.
The same thing goes for buying over-the-counter medicines. Check the active ingredients in the generics, and you will see that in many cases they are the same as what you see in the name brand versions. Buy the generic version and you can save more money over time.
4. Use Tax-Advantaged Accounts
With the help of tax-advantaged accounts, you can set money aside for use in paying health care costs — and save on your taxes. You have two possible options:
- Flexible Savings Accounts provide you with a way to have money taken out before taxes, lowering your taxable income and saving you at tax time.
- Health Savings Accounts also provide a tax deduction. The money is considered pre-tax. Plus, earnings on the money in the account are considered tax-free as long as you use the money for qualified health care expenses.
With the help of these accounts, you can save a little money at tax-time, and prepare to pay costs that crop up.
5. Take Care of Yourself
One of the best things you can do to save money on health care costs this year — and for years to come — is to take care of yourself. When you are healthy, you are less likely to fall victim to bugs that are going around. Plus, you have fewer issues with conditions like high cholesterol, heart disease, type II diabetes, and other problems.
Make an effort to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat healthy. You might be surprised at how much money you can save just by living healthy.