Despite pushes to make healthcare affordable for all Americans, it often seems like it’s getting more and more expensive. Thankfully, there is always a better way. For those willing to research different options and get creative, savings are waiting around the corner.

Save On Healthcare With These 6 Tips

One of the most frustrating things about medical expenses is that they aren’t predictable. You could go an entire year without visiting a doctor once, only to get diagnosed with a serious illness and spend the next two years of your life seeing specialists, getting procedures done, and going on and off different medications.

While you can’t prevent certain health problems from arising, you can keep costs down by knowing when and where to save. Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. Stay Healthy

Honestly, the best thing you can do for your wallet is to stay healthy. Again, this isn’t 100 percent controllable, but there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of having health issues. In fact, abstaining from smoking, cutting back on processed foods, staying properly hydrated, and exercising daily will dramatically reduce your chances of having a serious health-related problem.

  1. Use an HSA

If you don’t have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you need one. Assuming you qualify, individuals can contribute up to $3,400 per year, while families can put in as much as $6,750. Because an HSA is tax deductible, it essentially allows you to save your tax bracket on qualifying health expenses. So, if you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket, the tax savings reduce your expenses by one-quarter. Plus, an HSA can be established as an interest-bearing account that grows over time.

  1. Use In-Network Providers

Typically, if you participate in a PPO (preferred provider option) health insurance plan, your insurance provider will cover most of the cost when you work with a doctor or facility that’s within the company’s network of providers. If, however, you go out of network, they’ll only cover 70-80 percent. Stay in network and you could save thousands of dollars.

  1. Join Membership Groups

There are certain costs that your health insurance provider might not cover. In these cases, you may be able to save money by supplementing with a membership program.

Dental care is one such expense. Many plans don’t cover teeth cleanings, fillings, and other basic procedures. By joining a membership program that qualifies you for discount rates, you can save big. For example, DentalSave offers 25 to 50 percent savings when you use an in-network provider.

  1. Shop Around for Prescriptions

The way the pharmaceutical industry is structured, prices for different drugs can vary rather significantly from one pharmacy to the next. If you simply accept whatever price your local drug store gives, you’re probably spending more than necessary. Programs like GoodRx let you view and compare prices with ease.

  1. Negotiate With Healthcare Providers

There’s no rule that says you must use your insurance when paying for a healthcare expense. While it’s often the best option, there are instances where doctors and healthcare providers prefer you to pay in cash. They’d rather not deal with insurance and will offer discounts if you’re willing to negotiate.

Live Healthy, Spend Less

While it often feels like you have no other choice than to pay full price for healthcare, the tips and techniques highlighted in this article prove this isn’t true. There are plenty of ways to save money, if you know what to do.

Try implementing some of these concepts in 2018 and track your savings!