Yesterday, I received a pleasant surprise when I went to pick up a prescription. I've been paying around $100 a month for this particular prescription, since it hasn't been covered. Ever. No matter my plan.
But thanks to the PPACA, it is now covered. I had to ask the pharmacist if there was a mistake.
While there are a lot of strong feelings surrounding the health care reform law, the reality is that it did lower my cost in this one area. Will my premiums go up? Probably. But they go up every year — and have been going up every year before PPACA. I haven't noticed a big difference since the implementation of the new health care law began taking effect.
What's certain is that, whether it's the fault of the PPACA or a combination of other factors, health care costs are going to keep rising. Here are 5 ways to combat those rising health care costs:
1. Take Care of Your Health
The best thing you can do to keep your costs under control is to take care of your health. Conditions like heart disease, obesity, Type II diabetes, and other chronic conditions are related to your health habits. You reduce your chances of these conditions — and the costs that come with them, resulting in higher premiums — by adjusting your diet and exercise habits.
While your premiums will always rise, they'll rise at a slower rate the healthier you are, and the fewer health services you need.
2. Choose a High-Deductible Plan
A high-deductible plan can help you reduce your health care costs if you have few needs in that direction. Remember, though, that with a high-deductible plan you have to pay more out of pocket. You'll need to run the numbers to see if this works for you. My family of three has very few health care needs, so we have a high-deductible. We have yet to meet our deductible, but we still pay less each year, even with the out of pocket spending, since our premiums are much lower than what they used to be. You need an emergency fund that can handle the deductible if you go this route.
3. Make Use of a HSA
Your Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a great tool. If you have a high-deductible plan, you can contribute to a HSA. Not only do you get a tax deduction (I maxed my deduction out in 2012), but the money in the HSA also grows tax-free when used for qualified health care expenses. This can be a great way to offset some of the rising costs of health care.
Likewise, you can use a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) for the tax deduction. It's a good way to save up for health care costs, but remember that the FSA is “use it or lose it” each year, while a HSA rolls over year to year.
4. Ask for a Discount
You can save on hospital bills by asking for a discount, as well as receive other discounts. Some hospitals will lower your bill if you demonstrate financial hardship. Others can provide you with an affordable payment plan. We don't have dental insurance, but, since we pay with cash upfront, our dentist gives us a discount. We've also received discounts on eye care and visits to specialists.
5. Join a Discount Program
This is not insurance, but it can be helpful in certain instances. Join a discount program for prescriptions or other care, and you pay a small fee each month, but receive discounts that can make a difference in your out of pocket costs. Just make sure you run the numbers, and verify that the items you want covered are part of the program.