You’d have to be living under a rock if you didn’t know that healthcare costs are rising fast. Many families are facing year-over-year premium rate hikes or increased cost-sharing. Does the rising healthcare costs make you worried? There are ways to mitigate the impact. One of the ways is using a healthcare discount card. A healthcare discount card could help with paying medical bills in various ways. In this article, we discuss how to save money on medical bills using a healthcare discount card.
There are a number of factors which have lead to the increase in healthcare costs. We aren’t going to dive into them here. You can look all that stuff up online and come to your own conclusion and opinion. This Bloomberg article tells how squeezed the American family is, with premiums rising faster than general inflation. Let’s not forget deductibles and out-of-pocket cost sharing has risen in this timeframe, too.
That’s OK, John, you say. I’ll just increase my deductible and have a lower premium. We like high deductible plans, too. However, high deductible plans aren’t the answer, either. Although they allow you to contribute to a Health Savings Account, they merely push more expenses to your pocket. We want to mitigate the out-of-pocket expenses to your pocket.
Ways To Save Money On Medical Bills And Healthcare Costs
There are numerous ways to save money on medical bills and healthcare costs. These aren’t mutually exclusive. You should try to incorporate all of the below into a healthcare savings strategy. Before we delve into how a healthcare discount card can help, there are other ways to save money on medical bills and
(1) Save For The Deductibles
You should have 6 months of your income saved in case of an emergency. That is hard for most families. We know. If your family makes $75,000 annually, that is $37,500 for a 6-month emergency savings plan! Most families don’t even have that saved for retirement!
I recommend starting saving for your deductibles. If your health insurance deductible is $5,000, then $5,000 is your savings goal. Start off saving $100 per month, religiously, into an account shielded from the stock market. (Or some amount that you can afford to sock away.)
Yes, it will take time, but the lack of stress of trying to find money to pay for a medical bill will thank you.
Like anything, once a system is in place, the process operates automatically. You’ll have your deductible saved in no time.
Sounds good, John, you say. But how does saving for my deductible help me save money on medical bills and healthcare costs?
Simple: saving for your deductibles allows you flexibility as we discussed in a previous article. You will have the power to negotiate any medical bill, since you have the money to pay for it anyway. Let’s be real. Having the money on-hand is the greatest peace-of-mind, right? So, start saving for that health insurance deductible. (Hopefully, it will lead you to save for your other expenses and create that necessary 6-month emergency fund.)
(2) Look Into Alternative Health Insurance Plans
Because of the high insurance expenses, alternative health insurance plans have been increasingly available over the last few years. These plans allow you to customize your health insurance needs for you and your family. Because of the customization, you can save between 40% and 60%, or more, versus a major medical plan. It is important to note that these plans aren’t considered major medical, but have similarities of a major medical/Obamacare plan.
The core insurance of the plan is an insurance that will cover the preventative care established by the Affordable Care Act. These plans are known as minimum essential coverage policies, or MEC policies.
You know that the new tax plan eliminates the individual mandate. However, the individual mandate is still the law of the land for 2018.
Then, there are insurance plans that you can stack around this MEC policy such as insurance to help pay for:
(a) hospital costs
(b) costs associated with cancer or another major illness such as a stroke or ALS
(c) accidental injuries
(d) your high deductibles on your underlying major medical, if you decide to keep it
These pay benefits directly to you; they do not coordinate like typical major medical health insurance.
Again, because of the customization, you can save quite a bit on premiums and out-of-pocket costs compared to a major medical / Obamacare plan. However, you will still have out-of-pocket costs. That leads us to our next option and the subject of this article.
(3) Healthcare Discount Card
Healthcare discount cards have been around for awhile. If you belong to AAA or another member organization, you may have access to a common discount card known as a prescription discount card. These aren’t very new, but many of the new healthcare discount cards have new and important features.
Because the focus of this article is how to save money on medical bills using a healthcare discount card, let’s talk about this savings option in more detail.
Traditional Healthcare Discount Cards
Discount cards come in all shapes. First, to get out of the way, discount cards are NOT insurance. At all. So, you shouldn’t talk about them like they are.
What they are: consider them like a Costco membership card. You usually pay a low monthly or annual fee. In return, you get a discount from healthcare providers who participate in the program. Why would a provider join? Simple: increased marketing and volume.
In the past, these discount cards include:
(1) dental care
(2) vision services
(3) hearing services
(4) prescription medication
(5) other services like chiropractic care
These aforementioned services have traditionally incorporated into discount cards. We will talk about these traditional services next.
Dental, Vision, And Hearing Savings
Traditional dental insurance is a hard buy for most families. Why? You generally pay a relatively high premium for a small benefit. For example, you might pay $50 per month for a $1,000 annual dental benefit. Sure, your preventative care such as cleanings might be “free” (you actually pay for these services by paying your premium), but your benefit for anything else is small. Let’s say you need a bridge that costs $1,200. Well, most dental insurances would cover the first $1,000, leaving you on the hook for the rest.
This is why dental discount cards became popular. You pay a low premium, like $10 per month. In return, you receive a discount on services from a network of dentists. Most discount plans have a fee schedule, so you know upfront how much you will pay. Why is this important? You can plan our expenses better. From what we have seen, your out of pocket might be lower. For example, that bridge might cost $800 out of pocket instead of $1,000 through a traditional dental insurance plan. We discuss dental discount plans in more detail in a previous article.
Vision and hearing services operate in a similar fashion. You pay a very low monthly premium for discounted services.
Traditional major medical insurance usually does not cover chiropractic care. Some discount cards, however, offer discounted chiropractic services. Just like with dentists, you would go to a participating chiropractor. Some services might be limited to the plan. For example, the plan might only discount an initial office visit or x-ray or spine alignment.
Prescription Drug Discounts
As we mentioned before, discounted prescription drug cards have been around for awhile. These can help you save money if you:
(1) have a pet and need medication, it will cover your pet’s care
(2) need a drug not covered under your major medical policy or Medicare plan
(3) don’t have access to a prescription drug benefit
You’ll want to have a discount card accepted at major pharmacies. The ones we know are accepted at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. You will also want a card in which allows you to search for the lowest drug cost at participating pharmacies in your area.
While these are the most common, and important, services, there are newer discount card programs which will help you save money on medical bills. But, we are talking much more. These new programs elevate your cost savings and definitely help save money on medical bills. We’ll discuss those next.
New Ways To Save Money On Medical Bills Using A Discount Card
Newer programs now offer benefits to help you save money on your medical bills. These benefits include
(2) Doctors Online
(4) Additional services such as legal help, pet services, and more
We will explain these in more detail next.
It’s 2AM and your son has a fever. He has been complaining about feeling icky for a day or two now. You think it is the flu. Do you drag everyone to the ER? Do you head to the pediatrician in the morning? You’ll need to go into work late. It is time and money cost.
What do you do?
With telemedicine, you have 24-hour, 7-day/wk, 365-day coverage to a board-certified, state licensed doctor or practitioner. You can contact these providers via phone, teleconference, or video chat.
That sounds great, John, you say, but what’s the catch? Am I calling overseas? No, you are not. These doctors and practitioners are all US-based.
Including the above, Here are the additional benefits of telemedicine:
(1) services for children to seniors
(2) receive a prescription, if needed
(3) treatment for common health situations such as flu, cold, urinary tract infections, allergies, ear infections, etc
(4) no deductible, no copay, unlimited use! (Yes, that is right…no lie.)
(5) save time and money
One provider estimates the average family saves $717 per call, based on time and money savings. Just think – no copay or deductible to pay for. No time away from work. Just think how much this can help you save money on medical bills.
You go to your doctor about a strange lesion on your skin. She says not to worry about it, but you are. You then try to self-diagnosis the strange condition online, and what you read stresses you out even more.
What do you do?
Enter Doctors Online. With this service, you can contact a specialist to discuss your situation. Like Telemedicine, Doctors Online has no copay, no deductible, and unlimited use! Here are additional benefits of Doctors Online.
(1) US-based, board certified doctors
(2) Access to other types of practitioners including pharmacists, psychologists, and even fitness trainers
(3) guides you on your situation until completion or to your satisfaction
(4) great for second opinions and avoiding self-diagnosis
You go to the ER. A month later, you receive a bill for $8,000! Yikes.
What do you do?
Contact your advocate. If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that our healthcare system is a mess. Let’s leave it at that.
With advocacy, you will have someone in your corner to discuss your medical bill with your provider. It is like medical bill assistance. This person can negotiate that bill down. A minimum bill of $400 required, even dental bills, too.
Advocacy doesn’t stop there. Your advocate can clarify the benefits of your existing health insurance, coordinate care among providers, and help untangle the mess known as the US healthcare system.
Advocates can be worth their weight in gold if you have an unexpected out-of-network bill.
You can add on other popular services including:
Legal Assistance – provide no-cost or low-cost lawyer consultations for many legal situations including, but not limited to
(1) traffic violations
(2) will and trust creations
(3) assistance with welfare and INS
(4) small claims court representation
(5) landlord/tenant situation
You typically can receive free services or a discount on an hourly rate.
Pet Care Services – save money on veterinarian bills and medication. You can save up to 25% with participating veterinarian services as well as up to 35% on other items such as food, pet sitting, and more.
Identity Theft Assistance – one of the fastest growing crimes in America, protect your identity from thieves. If your identity is stolen, this service takes a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to reclaiming your identity.
The Best Healthcare Discount Card To Save Money On Medical Bills
We work with several healthcare discount cards. The ones we work with contain the aforementioned provisions and valuable add-ons to tailor to your specific situation.
This all sounds great, John, but how much does this cost, you ask?
Good question. The premiums will cost between $8 and $12 per month, or a little more, depending if you want to add extra services.
That is right, these cards cost about $0.27 to $0.50 per day. We are not talking about a lot of money to give you some additional peace-of-mind and help save money on medical bills.
We hope you understand how healthcare discount cards can help you save money on medical bills. We believe these are affordable solutions to supplement your health insurance needs.
Want to learn more or need assistance choosing a discount card. Feel free to contact us or use the form below. We would be happy to assist you with selecting a healthcare discount card.