A tax-advantage medical savings account available to U.S. taxpayers enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, a health savings account (HSA) is a smart way to accumulate funds for medical expenses and offers easy access to your money for medical and other qualified withdrawals.
Funds contributed to an HSA account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. The HSA also grows with interest in a tax-deferred account.
Keep that HSA account boosted and healthy with these 5 money-saving tips:
1. Consider walk-in medical clinic appointments instead of doctor or urgent care visits.
Typically staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, these walk-in clinics can be found at retailers like Target or CVS Pharmacy. They specialize in minor illnesses, injuries and skin conditions, as well as administer vaccinations. They will likely save you money compared to doctor or urgent care appointments, yet don’t compromise on care.
“It would be cheaper to go to a (walk-in clinic) than it is to go to a doctor,” says Dave Keller, chief sales officer of IHC Specialty Benefits. “The difference in cost could be $40 vs. $84 or more.” An urgent care clinic is an option, but “it’s going to be twice as much as a doctor’s office,” Keller adds.
2. Visit providers in your network.
Even if your deductible may be high, and you’re going to be paying for the doctor’s visit regardless if you’re in network, an in-network provider is always going to be less costly, “because you get a discount at the provider if you go to a network plan,” explains Keller. “It might cost you $70 for a network doctor versus $125 for a non-network doctor, because the network doctor by contract has to give you a discount if you come into the network.”
3. Request a cash discount at time of service.
Joyce Dove, vice president of operations for Innovative Medical Risk Management in St. Petersburg, Fl., says some health care providers may be willing to give a discount upfront. “It’s not a guarantee, but it never hurts to ask,” she says.
“The doctor doesn’t want to file with the insurance company, find out that it’s all going towards your deductible, and then have to bill you,” Keller adds. “That’s like an accounts receivable on his books. If you ask for a cash discount and pay the day of the service, as opposed to waiting to get billed, you may save money.”
4. Get a physical
Under an ACA plan, preventive care is generally covered 100 percent. Moreover, a physical can help detect health issues earlier on, potentially saving you money in the long run. “You might as well get a physical each year because it’s not going to cost you anything,” Keller stated. “Maybe you can catch something early before it turns into a big thing.”
5. Consider contacting pharmaceutical companies directly to negotiate deals on high-cost prescriptions.
Often, these companies are willing to work with people who are struggling financially. “They want to get them built up to their brand, because people’s circumstances change,” Keller said. When people with financial difficulties find jobs, or better-paying ones, for example, and can afford higher prescription costs, they may be more likely to buy that prescription at full cost.
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