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Life and Health


By November 1, 2011No Comments

As the cost of health care expenses have continued to increase, health insurance has simultaneously become an important element to prevent people with health issues from choosing between not seeking needed care and going bankrupt. Whether privately purchased or employer-sponsored, health insurance plans do play a vital role in keeping health care costs in America at a somewhat manageable level for most people. That said, a lot of Americans are still unknowingly paying more than necessary on their medical expenses.

Whatever end of the financial spectrum you’re on, you’re probably more than willing to take a few simple steps if it would result in reducing your health care spending. You can actually significantly cut your medical expenses just by becoming familiar with your personal practices and health insurance plan.

Pay attention to your health. Regular exercise isn’t just good for the mind and body, it’s also good for your finances. Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best financial moves a health insurance consumer can make. Countless studies have shown that those with a healthy lifestyle, including staying active and eating healthy, live longer and spend only a fraction of what those with unhealthy lifestyles do in health care expenses. If you want to lower your medical expenses and visit your physician less frequently, then make sure you’re following an exercise plan approved by your physician and avoiding unhealthy habits like tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption.

Always remember to follow your health care plan. One of the main causes of patients having to pay a medical bill out-of-pocket is from visiting a doctor or medical facility that isn’t part of their particular health plan’s provider network. Claims for out-of-network providers may be paid at a reduced amount or rejected entirely. To help you avoid such often unnecessary expenses, ask your insurer for a complete listing of the doctors and hospitals in your network. Whenever possible, choose a doctor within the network. You can also make a plan for emergencies that would help you avoid costly co-payments for hospital emergency room visits.

Always know and follow the rules pertinent to your particular policy and insurer. These rules can vary from policy to policy and insurer to insurer; don’t assume one policy will be the same as another. For example, some insurance policies, such as health maintenance organizations (HMOs), are structured to only provide coverage for specialist visits when your primary care physician refers you to the specialist. On the other hand, preferred provider organizations (PPOs) could provide partial reimbursement if you visit an out-of-network doctor, but you’ll still be responsible for a greater portion of the bill than when using a doctor in your network. The insurance lingo itself can also be fairly complex. Ask your insurance agent if you have any difficulty understanding the specifics of your coverage.

A good rule to remember for most any type of insurance policy is that a higher deductible generally results in lower premiums. A lot of people pay high premiums in an effort to keep their co-pays down even though they’ve rarely had a need to visit a hospital or specialist. Those in good health, that don’t have a history of frequent hospital or doctor visits, and that don’t expect either element to change may be spending more in premiums than they would ever save in lower co-pays. In this case, it may be better to consider accepting a higher deductible to save money on your monthly premiums.

Maintaining a health insurance plan is just a necessary evil with the cost of health care services today, but do ensure that it isn’t the only way you’re trying to control your health care expenses. Take every opportunity to trim the fat and control your health care expenses. You surely have better places to spend your money than on costly, bad health care habits that result in additional costs, unnecessary doctor and hospital trips, and high payments.