5 tips for cutting health costs | Business

Jennifer E. Engen

Total U.S. health care spending reached $4.1 trillion or $12,530 per person in 2020, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The good news is that there are affordable ways to prioritize your health.

Here are a few ideas to help you and your family stay healthier in 2022 and beyond:

1. Consider urgent care

In non-emergency situations, choosing to visit an urgent care center rather than an emergency room may be an ideal solution for your health and your wallet. Many urgent care centers are designed to take care of minor fractures, take X-rays and deal with bumps, cuts, scrapes and other non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses that happen outside of regular business hours. They generally have shorter wait times, welcome walk-ins and are less expensive than emergency rooms.

2. Shop for insurance if needed

Most people with health insurance are typically covered through their employer. However, if your job doesn’t offer insurance, you can visit healthcare.gov and enter your zip code to get to your state’s exchange or utilize the federal marketplace to shop for plans and take advantage of premium tax credits, which are income based. You can also purchase insurance from a private exchange or directly from an insurer, however those options don’t include the potential tax credits available through government marketplaces.

3. Comparison shop for services

It’s something you may not think about when it comes to healthcare, but some of the most common tests and procedures like ultrasounds, MRIs and arthroscopic surgeries are the most shopable. Talk to your insurance company or provider to find out where else you can have that test or procedure done. This will give you a clearer understanding of how much insurance will cover and how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket. If you don’t have insurance, you can research healthcare providers and call their billing departments. They can provide more information and help you set-up a payment plan.

4. Use your preventative care benefits

Regular check-ups and exams can help you stay healthy and catch problems early when they are easier, and often cheaper, to treat. Preventative services and immunizations are typically covered by insurance 100% at no cost to you as a policy holder. Regular dental and eye exams are also important as problems with your eyes or teeth can lead to more serious health issues down the road. Stay on top of preventative care and remember that immunizations are safe, simple and effective ways to protect against harmful diseases.

5. Invest in a Health Savings Account

If you rarely use your health benefits and choose a high deductible healthcare plan, with minimums of $1,400 per individual or $2,800 for a family, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow you to set aside money to pay for qualified medical expenses. You can use the money in your HSA toward that deductible or to cover any out-of-pocket medical expenses. HSAs also offer triple tax savings as contributions are made pre-tax or are tax-deductible, interest and earnings accumulate tax-free and distributions are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses. HSAs are portable and the funds always belong to you and are fully vested. Any unspent funds will remain there until you spend them.

We’re invested in helping Kentuckians build brighter futures and recognize that physical and financial health are connected. Medical debt can stand in the way of reaching long-term financial goals just as poor financial health can cause stress and impact physical wellness. We encourage you to check out our full library of financial health resources online.

Here’s to making 2022 a healthier year financially and physically.

Jill Krimm is chief people officer of Abound Credit Union.

Jill Krimm is chief people officer of Abound Credit Union.


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