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Save Money On Health Care Costs

Updated on March 26, 2011

I am constantly shocked at how much health care or health insurance costs in the United States. Even with insurance, we spend thousands of dollars each year on health related expenses - and I think we have pretty good insurance. For someone uninsured or who has high health insurance costs I can't imagine how they do it. The fact is though, many people can't afford it. People all over the world do without basic or even emergency health care because they don't have the money to pay for it. This is so sad. I have some ideas of ways you can save on your health care costs that will hopefully help you.

First, having health insurance will almost always save you money. I say "almost always" because if you never get sick and pay health insurance premiums for the whole year and never go to the doctor that would be more expensive than not having health insurance. But I don't think the risk is worth it. So much more can happen to a person than just whether they get sick or not. I have seen enough accidents and had enough weird things happen to my family to know that anything can happen and it is usually expensive. So, get health insurance.

Second, don't get just any health insurance. Just because your company offers it to you, doesn't mean you have to take it. Compare plans with your spouse if they work and see which ones offers the best coverage for the least amount of money. If you do truly never get sick, getting a plan with a higher deductible or co-pay could be cheaper for you in the long run. If you have a big family with small kids (who usually get sick frequently) then opting for a plan with a lower co-pay (even if it means a higher monthly fee) might be a cheaper option for you. Look at all your options and make a decision that fits your circumstances, don't just blindly sign up for the first option.

Third, shop around. You don't have to get insurance through the company you work for, although sometimes this is a more secure option. There are lots of private insurance companies that would love to have your business. If you are young and healthy especially, this could be a much cheaper option. But again, anything can happen and I know healthy 25 year olds that have gotten cancer.

Fourth, don't do stupid things. Don't ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Don't play tackle football without appropriate gear. Don't dive into a shallow pool.  Don't ride your bike off your roof.  You catch my drift, right? This can save you a lot of money by preventing injuries.

Fifth, take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise several times each week, etc. These things will all help you stay healthy, which means fewer trips to the doctor and less medications you might need. Medication is expensive, so avoiding it is a great way to save money.

Sixth, use natural remedies. Don't run to the doctor at the first sign of a sniffle in you or your child. Most people can fight illnesses on their own and most illnesses do not require antibiotics.  Doctors can't do anything about viruses.  If you think you are getting sick drink extra water, get extra vitamin C and get extra sleep. I also recommend what I call "the best cold remedy ever" that will boost your immune system to battle any sort of illness. Of course you need to use your best judgment on visiting the doctor, so if you think you or your child needs to be seen, then take them in.

Seventh, timing is important when visiting the doctor. Rather than running to the urgent care on Sunday night, try to wait until Monday morning. My daughter is sick right now and has a terrible cough. She had pneumonia in the fall and I was getting concerned that the cough wasn't going away. I opted to be proactive this week and take her to our regular doctor on Friday rather than wait and end up in the emergency room over the weekend. Urgent care and emergency room visits (while sometimes unavoidable) are much more expensive than visiting your regular doctor during business hours.

Eighth, opt for generic medication. Name brand medicine is much more expensive than generic medication. Not all generic medication will work the same as the name brand (even though they claim they do) but it is worth a try. We have never had a problem with generic medicine in my family and I know they work just as well for many other people. They have saved us hundreds of dollars too.

Ninth, use a flex plan to help cover some of your out of pocket health care costs before taxes are taken out of your paycheck. You can use your flex plan for co-pays, prescriptions, eyeglasses, etc. and save money each year. Be careful though, because you have to make sure you use all the money in your plan each year or you will lose it.

Health care costs money and that isn't going to change any time soon. Every doctor visit, procedure, test, or medicine costs money - too much money if you ask me. Using these tips though, has saved us a lot of money over the years and hopefully it will help you as well.


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    • mojefballa profile image

      Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Interesting hub,thanks for writing.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 6 years ago from East Coast

      Oh, I am in this boat...I cannot afford healthcare and I have looked into many, many different plans and I make too much money to go on medicaid. Your article was thoughtful and well written, though:)

    • ultimatekboxing profile image

      ultimatekboxing 6 years ago from New Barnet, North London

      Great post - although I'm sure some of the tips (like 4 and 5) just apply to life in general, rather than saving money on health insurance!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 6 years ago from Hawaii

      Very clear, and enlightening.

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

      Instead of buying insurance save your cash and follow the rest of these tips and then some. The ER requires no insurance for the 'stupid' things. Insurance was started as a means of making money not providing coverage for the risks that are so-called covered.

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      tvpuram, turning this over to the government is just changing the method of payment. It was the government who got everyone buying insurance in the first place, driving up costs, restricting the number of doctors licensed. Everything the government touches become more expensive.

    • tvpuram profile image

      tvpuram 6 years ago from India

      It is a vicious circle people of US can never escape from the clutches of Insurance guys. Now they want to spread the disease to other parts of world as well. Only remedy is the Government should take over the risk. Their prime duty is to protect its citizen and not these insurance companies. Obama tried to visit this area. But there are restraints.

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Hi Jennifer. I agree with most of what you say here except one thing. You say having health insurance will usually save you money. I am sorry, but no, usually, across all insurance types, most people will lose money. It is guaranteed. The minute an insurance company pays more than it takes in, it goes bankrupt, out of business. Insurance companies exist because you will pay more than you get back.

      The purpose of insurance is not to pay you back as much or more than you pay in. It is to protect your finances if you have a major, unexpected accident or illness, and to make sure you can afford extreme, unusual expenses if you do get sick.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Jennifer, terrific tips and advice. We can all use a little help saving money in this area. It is expensive to get sick.

    • Paul Kohler profile image

      Paul Kohler 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      Great advice, there are a few things I think I will try. Thank you

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      Yes, the health care plan in D.C: "Don't get sick" Yet we pay for them to do stupid things because They have free health care.