By Carolanne M. Chavanne, CFP
Making the decision to go without health insurance often comes with consequences. While to some people it may be a choice, to others, it’s a luxury that isn’t obtainable. While you can hope for good health, unexpected medical issues are common - and expensive. If you’re without health insurance for one reason or another, here are eight ways to cover your medical expenses in the coming year.
Way #1: Shop Around for Urgent Care Centers, Doctors, and Hospitals
Different offices charge different amounts. If you’re able, call around to determine which medical facility can offer you the best price for paying out-of-pocket. Since you aren’t confined to using a specific network, you have more freedom to shop around without having to worry about out-of-network prices.
Way #2: Set Savings Aside Each Month
Set aside money each month in order to cover your necessary medical expenses. Make sure to account for any recurring expenses - such as prescriptions and regular check-ups - as well as unexpected medical issues (broken bone, dislocated shoulder, the flu, etc.). In most states, there is no longer a penalty for being uninsured. However, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. have specific mandates for their health insurance.1
Way #3: Save on Medications
If you need a prescription, ask your doctor if they have any free samples available. Remember to ask your doctor for a generic brand, as they tend to cost much less to fill. Additionally, you can look to see if you qualify for a prescription assistance program, where drug companies will help you find lower prices. And before heading to the pharmacy, consider searching online or downloading a mobile app that automatically tracks drug prices and offers coupons for your prescriptions.
Way #4: Call Right Away and Pay in Cash
As soon as you have received a bill from the hospital or doctor’s office, call and set up a payment plan. If you can immediately pay that amount in full, the hospital or doctor’s office may be willing to lower your amount. That means that if you have the money, paying it off immediately may be beneficial. If that’s not a feasible option, establishing a payment plan may be your next best bet. Don’t wait to talk through your options with the healthcare provider, as they could send your information to a collection agency in as little as 90 days.
Way #5: Inquire About Reduced Rates
Simply asking for a discount, while uncomfortable to do, could work in your favor. Some doctor’s offices may be able to charge you a lower rate if you do not have insurance. Additionally, offering to pay for a service in advance could mean getting a discounted rate. While this is not helpful should an unexpected medical emergency arrive, it can help cut down on costs for regular office visits.
Way #6: Always Check Your Bills
A simple typo can make a big difference in what you’re asked to pay. Review every medical bill carefully line-by-line, and question any charges you don’t remember incurring.
Way #7: Claim Deductions on Your Taxes
The IRS says that many medical treatments are tax-deductible.
Tax-deductible medical expenses may include:1
- Dental Bills
- Hearing Aids
- Chiropractic Services
Check with your CPA or financial advisor to see if these deductions may be a viable option for you to take this coming tax season.
Way #8: Consider a Flexible Spending Account
With a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can put money into an account to pay for certain out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Your employer can make contributions to this account as well, but they are not required to do so.
In order to receive reimbursement, you’ll need to submit a claim through your employer with proof of the medical expense plus a statement that it has not been covered by insurance. Upon approval, you would receive a reimbursement for your costs.
Expenses covered by FSA may include:3
- Certain medical and dental expenses
- Deductibles and copayments
- Over-the-counter medications with a doctor’s prescription
- Medical equipment
Covering your medical expenses without insurance is challenging, but it can be done. It may take some planning ahead or shopping around, but lowering your costs while still receiving medical care is possible.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.