Even if you consider yourself to be a frugal shopper in general, spending on your health isn't always so simple. Should you choose a low-premium or low-deductible health plan? Should you schedule a checkup right away or wait until you have a health question to ask your doctor? There's a lot to learn.
Individuals must understand that health-related decisions and strategies are closely linked to financial outlook in many countries, such as the United States, where there is no single-payer or universal care system. And knowledge of both is required and should be complementary.
Wellness and financial experts share the most common financial mistakes they see people make when it comes to spending (and saving) on their health.
1. Skipping out on health plan wellness programs
A growing number of insurance companies offer premium discounts and other benefits in exchange for enrolling in and participating in their health programs. Participation in a wellness program may result in discounts on gym memberships, fitness gear, or equipment. You might even get money to put toward out-of-pocket expenses.
2. Not comparing all factors of a health plan
To find the most affordable health care plan available, compare prices, features, coverage, deductibles, prescription benefits, and provider networks.
When shopping for a health insurance plan, whether through the Marketplace or a tier on your employer-sponsored benefits, you may become obsessed with finding the plan with the lowest premium. However, lower premiums frequently result in higher deductibles and vice versa.
A high deductible health plan can be costly for people who have preexisting conditions and need to see their doctors more frequently. However, if you are relatively healthy, the lower premium option may be the better option.
3. Spending money on supplements or fads
Many people are flocking to buy expensive products that they may not require. Rather than supplements, emphasize diet as a source of nutrients. Supplements should be used when the diet is insufficient to meet nutritional needs and should not be used as the primary source of nutrition. Consult your healthcare provider if you are unsure whether you have nutrient deficiencies or special dietary needs and how to address them.
4. Only going to the doctor when you are sick
It is costly for health systems, individuals, and families to avoid preventive care or screenings and instead rush to the ER when a problem arises. If possible, visit a primary care clinic for all routine screenings, such as annual physicals.
Of course, if you are experiencing an emergency, you should go to the emergency room. A PCP, on the other hand, should serve as your primary care physician. Your provider should keep a detailed record of your medical history and assist you in navigating health issues if they arise. If necessary, this may entail referring you to a reputable specialist.
PCP copays are typically less expensive than emergency room copays. Furthermore, many health plans waive copays for a set number of PCP visits per year. Furthermore, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all non-grandfathered health plans in the United States are required to cover preventive care benefits at no cost to you if you see an in-network provider. That means you won't have to pay a deductible, coinsurance, or copay for many routine screenings with your primary care physician.
5. Not accessing free or low-cost services
Even if you don't have a health insurance plan, you can get preventive care. Many people's lack of situational awareness or general knowledge about free or low-cost community-based resources can end up costing them money.
The Health Resources and Services Administration funds federally qualified health centers to provide sliding-fee scale primary care to patients. Other free clinics provide services for free or at a low cost.
6. Not utilizing hospital financial assistance programs
Nonprofit hospitals must provide financial assistance. These programs offer a sliding scale discount or even free care. Depending on your state's poverty rate and family size, you could earn six figures and still qualify for a discount of 25% or more. Many people in medical debt were eligible for financial assistance but didn't know how to ask for it.