Although our economy is on the road to recovery, money is still tight for millions of Americans during the ongoing pandemic. Whether you lost your job this year or are simply struggling to keep up with the increased costs of living, you might be looking into every possible way to save money wherever you can.
Of course, healthcare costs are always a hot-button issue. But while many people have actively avoided the doctor this year due to COVID-19 concerns, this isn't an ideal solution. So how can you make your family's medical costs and insurance payments more affordable during this health crisis? Here are a few ideas to try.
See If You're Eligible For ACA Marketplace Coverage
Millions of Americans lost their employer-sponsored healthcare coverage over the last year, but there is hope: President Biden reopened the ACA health insurance marketplace through May 2021, which may allow you to obtain new and more affordable coverage. You might even be eligible for free or discounted coverage. A recent study found that the ACA reduced out-of-pocket costs for children's well visits, which essentially means that obtaining insurance coverage through the expanded ACA protocols could allow you to save both on premiums and extra healthcare expenditures. Don't assume that you can't obtain coverage. Check it out for yourself or go to Healthcare.gov to get extra assistance during the enrollment process.
Ask Your Providers About Payment Plans or Lower Cost Medications
It's not always fun to admit to your doctor or dentist that you need a more affordable option. But this really is a case of "nothing ventured, nothing gained." You simply won't know whether there are more affordable alternatives unless you ask! Many providers do offer payment plans, which can make healthcare costs a lot more feasible. With 4 million Americans now wearing braces, many of those patients don't pay the full cost all at once! You can also ask your doctor about exploring generic versions of your medications or about whether they might be able to provide you with complimentary medication samples. Making your health provider aware of your financial situation will put them in a better position to actually address your family's needs.
Prioritze Preventative Care
More than 40% of kids have dental cavities before they reach kindergarten -- and since we know that excellent oral health can set the stage for excellent overall health, this shows just how important preventative care can be. It might be tempting to skip that annual appointment, but these regular visits are crucial in preventing medical emergencies. Plus, many of these preventative care visits may be fully or partially covered by your insurance policy. If you can get ahead of potential problems, you can often avoid them altogether and save money in the process.
Get Active As a Family
Around 52% of people turning 65 will need long-term care services at some point, but making your health a priority early on can prevent problems later. Make a pledge this spring and summer to get active as a family in a safe way. There are plenty of free or low-cost activities to enjoy, like walking around the neighborhood, hiking on a local nature trail, or setting up an obstacle course in your backyard. Fitting in exercise each week can boost your energy levels, improve your quality of sleep, and help you fight off disease that would otherwise be costly to treat.
Stay Within Your Network
Don't forget to ask whether a healthcare provider is within your insurance network before you go. If you're enrolling in a new plan this year, you'll want to double-check beforehand to ensure your current doctors will take your insurance. Otherwise, you could end up paying a lot more out-of-pocket. By making sure that your healthcare provider is in your insurance network, you won't be as likely to be hit with a surprise bill. Knowing which providers are within your network in advance can help you in emergency situations, as well, when you might not have time to check en route to the medical facility.
Saving money is essential for many families during this pandemic. But that doesn't mean you have to forgo healthcare visits. By keeping these cost-cutting tips in mind, you can prioritize the well-being of your family while staying within your budget.