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How to Save Money on Health Insurance

Having health insurance helps protect your family from medical problems, and can also help you avoid huge medical bills. Unfortunately, an estimated 47 million Americans are uninsured. A major contributor to this statistic is the high cost of health insurance premiums. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to reduce your health insurance premiums and associated healthcare expenses.

Increase your health insurance deductible

This isn’t possible with all plans, but a higher deductible can save you hundreds and monthly premiums. Just be sure that your emergency fund or health savings account (HSA) can cover the deductible.

Go for generic drugs whenever possible

Some drugs are available in generic form at less than half the cost of the name brand version. On top of this, many major retailers (e.g., Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, and Walgreens) offer $4 prescriptions, and some even offer free antibiotics.

Try health clinics

I’ve found this to be a great option for some of my exams, and it can also help save on prescriptions. With my previous health insurance, my co-pay was $30/month for one of my prescriptions. By going to the university health clinic, I pay $40 for three month supply. I save $240/year just by doing that. Check with your local health department to see if there are any such clinics in your area.

Look into private health insurance

Employers don’t always offer the best deal on health insurance. Shop around online using an online tool to help you compare health insurance companies and see if there a policy that is more affordable for you. You may also qualify for some state run health insurance programs, which can likewise reduce the costs.

So there you have it… Four tips for saving money on health insurance and medical care. While many people are trying to cut costs and save money, that doesn’t have to involve sacrificing the quality of your healthcare. Do you have any additional tips for reducing your health insurance premiums or otherwise saving money on healthcare?

And if you’re generally reviewing your insurance policies, see our articles on how to save money on car insurance, how to save money on home insurance and how to save money on life insurance.

Posted by on March 18, 2009.

Categories: Frugality, Insurance

12 Responses

  1. The biggest thing I’ve done in the past two years was to switch to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA). I’ve been able to contribute almost $11K into the HSA the past two years (a good portion was a ‘pass-through’ of my premium directly to my HSA). Long-term, HSA’s are a no-brainer, as the money saved, coupled with the tax-savings (tax-free in, earnings tax-free, tax-free out if spent on medical expenses).

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 10:41 am

  2. Just one comment about raising one’s deductible: First, you need to do the math. By that, I mean you should add up the difference in premiums between, say, your $500 deductible plan and $1,000 dedcutible plan, and make sure the reduction in premiums doesn’t exceed $500. That may seem like a no-brainer, but with my employer, there is only one of their three deductible choices that doesn’t save you more in premium reductions than the increase in the deductible.

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  3. @Mase: I’m glad you’ve been able to create a system that works for your health care needs.

    @cemccon: Great point; thanks for sharing the tip. It”s definitely wise to double check each policy’s coverage and small print. You don’t want to find out too late.

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  4. Like Mase I’m also using a high deductible plan with an HSA. Mine is through work. With the HSA plan I only pay for what I actually use. Last year we saved about $1600 with the HSA plan compared to the traditional insurance with copay/coinsurance. If we’d used more medical services we’d have more cost with the HSA but our maximum cost with the HSA is still about $700 less.

    Extra bonus with the HSA is that we can put more money into the HSA account and then use pretax dollars to pay for any other medical expenses such as dental bills or even over the counter drugs.

    Jim

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  5. I actually don’t have health insurance, but I don’t plan on getting sick. 🙂

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm

  6. Here’s a pretty good HSA service that I’m using that’s fairly low cost that I’d found in my research 2 years ago that people might find useful. It’s the best one I’ve found so far for new accounts:

    http://www.AmericanChartered.com

    – Rick

    by Anonymous on Mar 18, 2009 at 4:54 pm

  7. About, the well child care at the Health Department, I was not aware of that.
    At one point, our son, who was about 19 at the time and uninsured, got strep throat. I called the Health Department and was told that they only did lab work for (you guessed it) sexually transmitted diseases. I asked if it counted that his girlfriend got strep throat ahead of him. This struck me odd, since strep throat was a very communicable disease but our tax dollars going into the Health Department would only cover . . . What we did was call our family doctor and tell him that our son’s girlfriend had a positive strep culture, and our son had a sore throat. Our Doctor called a penicillian prescription over to the pharmacy. It was under $10.00 to pick that up without insurance. Worth a try. I’m sure it helps when the Dr. knows the family very well.

    by Anonymous on Mar 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  8. If you live in northern (and maybe southern) California, and are looking for an HSA, Patelco credit union is offering an amazing 5% interest rate on their HSA savings accounts. I’ve just signed up for it so have no firsthand experience, but my insurance broker has an HSA there and loves it.

    by Anonymous on Mar 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  9. There are some great high deductible plans out there that offer 1 physical a year and first dollar Rx benefits. These plans are ideal for people that only see a doctor 1-2 times a year and are in great health.

    by Anonymous on Mar 20, 2009 at 1:00 am

  10. @Ray: Look around, you may find something acceptable, even if it’s catastrophic health insurance.

    @ Carma: Good point on family doctors. Some will work with you and your financial situation.

    @Rick, Trav, and Jeremy: Thanks for the suggestions! I hope it can help some people.

    by Anonymous on Mar 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

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Hello and welcome. I’m “nickel”, and I’m the guy who runs this place. I’m a thirty-something family man with a loving wife and four wonderful kids. I’ve been sharing my thoughts on various topics related to money and finance here on FiveCentNickel since May 1, 2005. While my wife and I have always been pretty […]more →