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How To Beat The High Costs Of Health Insurance

Updated on September 1, 2012


Medical insurance in this day and age is a must-have but with the skyrocketing unemployment rates and the out-of-sight costs of medical procedures and prescription medicines, what can we do as consumers?

Getting medical insurance can feel like going into a maze.  You don’t know which way to turn and you don’t see a way out without forking out more money than you have to spend. 

There are many different things to consider when trying to find ways to cut your medical insurance expenses, but first and foremost, don’t leave yourself vulnerable and opt for no medical insurance.

One accident or one catastrophic illness can leave you penniless or hundreds of thousands dollars in debt.  It pays to have that medical insurance card whether you’re young or you’re old.  Things happen that we can’t foresee and that is after all, the purpose of insurance across the board. 

Let’s look at some ways to help cut down on the high cost of medical insurance.  There are ways that can help you in your quest for the lowest outlay of cash and coverage that will serve your needs.



  • Be a poster child for healthy. The easiest way to cut medical expenses and thus cut your premiums is to lead a healthy lifestyle! Obviously, taking drugs, smoking and drinking too much are going to shoot you in the foot when it comes to getting breaks on medical insurance.

    Being overweight is also going to kill you - literally and in the insurance market. You get a black mark on your policy for being overweight because it is a health risk. Take the time to give yourself a present – and get your weight under control. You’ll feel better, be healthier, and you’ll see a return by lower insurance rates!

  • Grab freebies. If your city has free health screening, take advantage of it every time. You never know what you might be missing and if it’s free, why not use it?

    Check online or in the newspaper under Health for places you can be screened for things like high cholesterol or diabetes.

  • Front end loading your policy. Increasing your deductible and having co-pays will bring down your insurance costs dramatically. It also teaches you self-discipline in terms of how much you visit healthcare providers.

    Healthcare is critical to staying healthy but if you have to pay out-of-pocket for more of your healthcare or you have higher copays, you tend to think about is it truly vital to go see a healthcare provider for this or should I look online or call a nurse line for more information?

    I’m not saying don’t go to the doctor – I’m just saying avoid going for things like colds and flu. It spreads the "wealth" so to speak in terms of getting other people infected, and there’s nothing that they can do about it anyway that you can’t do over-the-counter or for yourself by resting and taking common remedies.

    Do go for checkups and monitoring of disease – those things are vital to staying in good health over time.

  • What’s the alternative? There are many health plans that encourage folks to try alternative forms of medical therapy – like acupuncture or massage. If your physician will recommend it, often it’s covered.

    Even physical therapy or chiropractor care are covered and instead of having surgery, an insurance company would much rather pay for that over time as a conservative approach to a disk problem rather than paying out thousands of dollars in surgical costs. Some alternative therapies have a higher yield in terms of fixing a problem or at least calming it whereas a surgical intervention could make it worse!

  • Deny me nothing. If you’ve been denied by a health insurance company, ask why. Also get a copy of your records from the Medical Information Bureau. We were denied on a private health care plan in Oregon that we previously had in Washington State. I thought it was because of my husband’s high blood pressure and other conditions but in fact, it turned out that I was denied – I had no serious health conditions but I had overuse syndromes. They denied me because of that I suppose thinking the treatments over time would be a liability.

    Even if you’re denied, however, on any other given day, you will not be denied so it pays to still apply for whatever coverage you think you can get. Policies also change and more and more medical conditions are considered survivable and treatable such as open-heart surgery, high cholesterol, cancers, etc.



  • Get it on record. Always have a copy of this year’s health records. Ask for them from your treating physicians or health care providers. You’ll know where you stand and you’ll also have a cumulative copy that could save you big bucks in copying fees later!

  • Regular maintenance. Saving money is one thing but early detection of medical conditions is vital to leading a healthier life down the road. An ounce of prevention is in fact worth a pound of cure.

    Make sure you have regular checkups because over time, you’ll save on doctor bills and even prescription medications. Finding a condition after it has had the opportunity to cause damage is not the scenario you want to get into.

  • Prep for your exams. If you have to have an exam for health care coverage, usually scheduling it early in the morning is the best time for things like blood pressure or blood sugar testing. Forego heavy exercise before the exam and also skip the caffeine.

  • Better living through pharmaceuticals. Check your health care prescription plan and if it’s not up to snuff, consider alternatives such as buying online, mail order programs, $4 prescription plans such as Target or Walmart offer, generic drugs, prescription plans outside your insurance plan, or Medicare D prescription plans.

    Prescription costs for some people can be devastating and these are all alternatives to help save you money! Ask your pharmacist and your health care provider to review your medication list as well and see if there are lesser tier drugs (older drugs) that do the same thing. This can save you major bucks.

    Also ask them to periodically review your medications because oftentimes you can be taking medications that you don’t even need anymore or taking drugs that interact improperly with one another which can lead to having you take an additional drug!

Prescription coverage
Well baby care
Maternity Care
Low co-pays
Higher deductible
Out of network coverage
Choice to pick own doctors
Surgical coverage
Chiropractic care
Massage therapy
Laboratory services
X-ray coverage
Emergency Room coverage
Yearly mammogram
Fitness coverage
Dietary Education
Smoking Cessation Classes

Some of the many things to consider when selecting your health plan



Find a policy that fits. If you’re healthy and don’t need much in the way of health care coverage, consider a super high deductible and you’ll end up paying less in premiums. If you do have health conditions and need good coverage, then look at the deductible plus the copays. Pick the best plan for your needs and make sure what you need treatment for is covered.

Networking. Many plans offer health care plans where you use doctors and providers, hospitals and labs that are part of a network. This can save you big money. Make sure that the docs and providers you use are on the network before signing up because going "out of network" can land you with a claim not being covered. It will most likely cost you more out of pocket because they only allow so much for providers outside their network.

However, most providers are on a network of some kind – make sure your doc is on the preferred provider list (which they usually are) – and don’t pay for "free choice". In other words, you might have a higher premium so you can choose your doc but he or she might already be on the preferred provider plan!

Do the math. If you have a policy through your employer, make sure it’s the best for your needs and your family’s needs. If you can get a private plan and pay less, do so. If you can get a private plan on just the spouse and it’s less, do so. If you can get family coverage on a private plan for the spouse and the kids, save money and do it.

Just make sure that the coverage is what you need. If you don’t need things like maternity coverage or dental coverage, pick the plans that don’t have that as you’re paying for it somewhere in the policy.

Don’t discount low-income health plans because surprisingly, depending on your marital state, even the state you live in, there are plans out there that allow you to make a lot of money and still qualify for low-income health plans. Women and children generally have the best chance of qualifying for these plans but it never hurts to run the numbers.

Be flexible. Check out flexible spending plans if they are offered by your insurance company through your employer. These plans offer you tax free medical expenses.

Positive statements. Make sure you read any and all bills and reimbursement statements from your health care providers and insurance companies. There are mistakes made all the time, such as billing a previous health insurance carrier, overcharges or double charges for services rendered. Check each individual statement and reimbursement statement and get it taken care of.

Claims are sometimes denied because of incorrect information or diagnoses so make sure you question any and all claim denials and if needed, file an appeal. Most appeals are in fact won because usually the denial was the result of an error in the record!

Check out the innovative plans shown in the video above about discount plans.  They do not replace standard insurance policies but they can fill the gap between what is covered and what you'd have to pay out of pocket - for as low as $12 to $30 per month.



In short, there are many ways to save money on medical insurance (and dental and vision).

TIP: Check out private policies versus employer policies and make sure you’re not overpaying for health insurance.

Consider this point as well....if you smoke or have other lifestyle habits that are liabilities, some companies have started charging folks with risky lifestyle behaviors an extra premium.  I think this is totally spot-on. Nothing against anyone but I think that these folks should pay higher prices for their policies simply because it’s their choice.

In my humble opinion, if I’m a nonsmoker, or I try and live a healthy lifestyle by not being overweight, not drinking or using drugs, why shouldn’t I have lower premiums and people who don't do that have higher premiums?

I think this way, it’s taking the load off some of us who are paying for everyone’s health care these days – including people who are uninsured. It seems a fairer deal all the way around for everyone.

Health insurance is a necessary survival tool and not having it can break your back – literally and financially. Evaluate and do the math and find the best policy for your needs and your family’s needs and purchase accordingly.

Wishing you good health and also good luck in finding the plan that fits your financial needs and your health needs perfectly.

If you have tips and opinions about health care costs and ways to save, please comment and add to the quality of this article!


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