Tag: Health Insurance

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

  • Understanding Your EOB

    March 30, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Let’s say that you vis­it­ed the doc­tor and you are won­der­ing how much that vis­it is going to cost.  A short while lat­er, you receive some­thing in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bot­tom.  How­ev­er, it doesn’t have a return enve­lope or tear-off por­tion for the bill.  Con­fused?  You’re not the only one!

    Most like­ly, you’ve just received an Expla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) from your insur­ance com­pa­ny.  The most impor­tant thing for you to remem­ber is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essen­tial­ly “one big receipt” that explains your vis­it.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you — the patient — have to pay. It is always impor­tant to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

    An EOB is a tool that shows you the val­ue of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the ser­vices you received and how much your insur­ance will pay.

    How do EOB’s work?

    The health care provider will bill your insur­ance com­pa­ny after your doc­tor vis­it.  Then, your insur­ance com­pa­ny will send your EOB.  Lat­er, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  How­ev­er, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can com­pare it to your med­ical bill.

    While an EOB will dif­fer from one insur­ance com­pa­ny to anoth­er, they typ­i­cal­ly all include the fol­low­ing information:

    • The Account Sum­ma­ry – lists your account infor­ma­tion with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
    • The Claim Details – lists the ser­vices pro­vid­ed and the dates of the services.
    • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the ser­vices and what costs your health plan did not cov­er. It will also include any out­stand­ing amount you are respon­si­ble for pay­ing.  If there is a por­tion that is not cov­ered by insur­ance, the rea­son why will also be listed.

    Remem­ber, insur­ance com­pa­nies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applic­a­ble deductible, copay and coinsurance.

    Deductible: The amount you pay for health care ser­vices before your insur­ance begins to pay anything.

    Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doc­tor or fill a prescription.

    Coin­sur­ance: The por­tion of the med­ical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coin­sur­ance is a way of say­ing that you and your insur­ance car­ri­er each pay a share of eli­gi­ble costs that add up to 100%.

    Why is Your EOB important?

    Med­ical billing com­pa­nies some­times make billing errors.  Your EOB is a win­dow into your med­ical billing his­to­ry.  Review it care­ful­ly to make sure that you did receive the ser­vice being billed and that your pro­ce­dure and diag­no­sis are list­ed and cod­ed correctly.

    EOBs can help you under­stand how the health insur­ance sys­tem works and pro­vide trans­paren­cy in the com­pli­cat­ed finances of health care.  While the EOB may be com­pli­cat­ed, under­stand­ing it can help ensure that you and your fam­i­ly get the most out of your health insur­ance.  Know­ing what an EOB is and what is includ­ed on the state­ment ensures that you stay in con­trol of your health care finances.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

  • Understanding Your EOB

    March 30, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Let’s say that you vis­it­ed the doc­tor and you are won­der­ing how much that vis­it is going to cost.  A short while lat­er, you receive some­thing in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bot­tom.  How­ev­er, it doesn’t have a return enve­lope or tear-off por­tion for the bill.  Con­fused?  You’re not the only one!

    Most like­ly, you’ve just received an Expla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) from your insur­ance com­pa­ny.  The most impor­tant thing for you to remem­ber is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essen­tial­ly “one big receipt” that explains your vis­it.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you — the patient — have to pay. It is always impor­tant to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

    An EOB is a tool that shows you the val­ue of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the ser­vices you received and how much your insur­ance will pay.

    How do EOB’s work?

    The health care provider will bill your insur­ance com­pa­ny after your doc­tor vis­it.  Then, your insur­ance com­pa­ny will send your EOB.  Lat­er, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  How­ev­er, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can com­pare it to your med­ical bill.

    While an EOB will dif­fer from one insur­ance com­pa­ny to anoth­er, they typ­i­cal­ly all include the fol­low­ing information:

    • The Account Sum­ma­ry – lists your account infor­ma­tion with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
    • The Claim Details – lists the ser­vices pro­vid­ed and the dates of the services.
    • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the ser­vices and what costs your health plan did not cov­er. It will also include any out­stand­ing amount you are respon­si­ble for pay­ing.  If there is a por­tion that is not cov­ered by insur­ance, the rea­son why will also be listed.

    Remem­ber, insur­ance com­pa­nies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applic­a­ble deductible, copay and coinsurance.

    Deductible: The amount you pay for health care ser­vices before your insur­ance begins to pay anything.

    Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doc­tor or fill a prescription.

    Coin­sur­ance: The por­tion of the med­ical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coin­sur­ance is a way of say­ing that you and your insur­ance car­ri­er each pay a share of eli­gi­ble costs that add up to 100%.

    Why is Your EOB important?

    Med­ical billing com­pa­nies some­times make billing errors.  Your EOB is a win­dow into your med­ical billing his­to­ry.  Review it care­ful­ly to make sure that you did receive the ser­vice being billed and that your pro­ce­dure and diag­no­sis are list­ed and cod­ed correctly.

    EOBs can help you under­stand how the health insur­ance sys­tem works and pro­vide trans­paren­cy in the com­pli­cat­ed finances of health care.  While the EOB may be com­pli­cat­ed, under­stand­ing it can help ensure that you and your fam­i­ly get the most out of your health insur­ance.  Know­ing what an EOB is and what is includ­ed on the state­ment ensures that you stay in con­trol of your health care finances.

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