Get Affordable Health Insurance: 10 Ways to Cut Your Bills

By Insurance.com Posted : 11/22/2010

Get Affordable Health Insurance: 10 Ways to Cut Your Bills Rising health insurance costs have forced many Americans to evaluate their providers, premiums, and policies. Instead of letting your monthly health insurance bill squeeze your checkbook, use these 10 tips to cut your monthly payments.

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Switch to a higher health insurance deductibles

If you're healthy but can afford the possibility of paying more out-of-pocket if needed, you can bump up your share of potential out-of-pocket costs and pocket any annual savings.

Drawing from your savings to cover the cost of deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance could be less expensive than paying a high monthly premium - if you don't mind the financial risk.

Take care of yourself

Many health insurance companies have adjusted their rates to reward policyholders who avoid risky behavior. Just as it's hard to find life insurance if you're a skydiver, don't expect to see insurance companies battling for your business if you smoke or overeat.

Many insurers now provide special group access or premium discounts for policyholders who:

  • Enroll in wellness programs
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Participate in measurable exercise programs
  • Don't smoke
  • Go for regular, routine preventive care.

Insurance companies have discovered that preventing illness often saves more money than making health care less expensive. Find an insurer that's willing to pass the savings along to you if you're willing to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Leverage prescription drug programs

Sometimes, reducing your health insurance bill requires finding ways to add value to the premium you're already paying.

While some Americans balk at the idea of buying three month's worth of prescriptions at a time, ordering larger supplies of your routine medications can save you a significant amount of money over the years.

Your insurer's pharmacy partner can recommend generic drugs that work the same as name brands.

Switch to your spouse's health plan

Compare your existing policies to see which provider offers better overall value. The shift in coverage may require a few trade-offs, but savings could outweigh the gaps in coverage you might not need.

Get a tax advantage from a flexible spending account

If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) along with a group health plan, take advantage of the tax break.

An FSA allows you to take a portion of your regular paycheck - before payroll taxes - and deposit the money into an account that you can use for medical expenses such as co-pays and prescription drug costs.

Dig deeper into health insurance discounts

Finding even more value in your relationship with a health insurance company can help justify the cost of a more expensive health plan.

Many insurers partner with companies marketing a variety of wellness products and services, including:

  • Health care memberships
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Exercise equipment
  • Alternative and holistic treatment.

Track your medical expenses

Review the statement for every procedure or payout your health insurer authorizes. Catching a billing error can prevent an individual health insurance policy from being reclassified into a more expensive group at renewal time.

Many insurers now offer online statement access. Use those statements to research whether you qualify for any special tax credits or other government assistance programs for Americans with higher than average health care expenses.

Consider using preferred providers

Many health insurance companies rate doctors and hospitals based on their quality of care and efficiency of their billing operations. In many cases, you can reduce your health insurance premium by agreeing to use only those providers who have passed both kinds of reviews.

If you're willing to select new health care providers based on your insurer's recommendations, and if you live in an area where many practitioners qualify for participation in a preferred network, you can save money without sacrificing quality care.

Let the free market cut your health care costs

In many states, supermarkets and drug stores offer clinics staffed with nurse practitioners. Some insurance companies will reward you for replacing visits to your primary care doctor with trips to the clinic for routine needs like:

  • Flu shots
  • Allergy shots
  • Blood pressure screenings
  • Cholesterol tests
  • Early diagnosis and treatment of cold or flu symptoms

Many health insurance companies recognize that early detection of common ailments can prevent more expensive treatments. Therefore, your insurance company may offer significantly reduced co-pays or other incentives to seek treatment at clinics.

Shop around for health insurance

Many employers now offer multiple group health insurance plans for you to choose from, each with features and benefits that determine your monthly premium. However, if you're not covered by an employer's insurance program, you can often save money by requesting free quotes for a variety of individual health insurance plans.

If you only want to cover your bases in the event of a dire emergency, consider a low-cost catastrophic health insurance policy. Otherwise, you should be able to customize a plan that covers the services you'll need most.

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