There are many options that allow you to get the most out of your high deductible health plan (HDHP), without breaking the bank. See below for a list of tips to follow:
Make the most of your preventative health care
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many preventative health services are available for free, even if you have a high-deductible plan. Just be sure of two things: that your care provider accurately codes the service (ask them to double check when you have your appointment to save you from dealing with an unexpected medical bill down the road) and that the procedure is covered under the ACA. Some of the most common covered services include:
- Blood pressure screening
- Depression screening
- Immunization vaccines
- STI prevention screening
You can find a list of covered services on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Using your covered preventative services can keep you healthier and help you avoid high medical bills.
Ask for a discount
After speaking with a few doctors, I discovered that if a doctor or hospital knows that you have to pay a high-deductible out-of-pocket, they may be sympathetic and offer a discount. While it is up to the doctor, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you can’t afford to pay, check to see if they offer an installment plan with little or no interest. Oh, and the nicer you are, the more likely they are to work with you.
In-network providers are usually cheaper than those out-of-network, even on a high-deductible plan. Check with your insurance plan to make sure you’re seeing an in-network provider and then double check with that provider, as sometimes insurance systems aren’t updated.
You can also use Amino to easily find new doctors that are in-network. Just search for a procedure or condition below, and make sure to enter your insurance. Doctors that accept your insurance will have a green check below their names.
Max out your Health Savings Account (or open one, if you don't have one)
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are special because they allow you to save pre-tax money that is only for use towards health services. Pairing an HSA with a high-deductible plan is one of the smartest moves you can make. The contributions you make are tax-deductible and, when you withdraw to use for health services, are tax free.
Have an emergency fund with at least the amount of your deductible in it
It’s always wise to have an emergency fund, just in case. When you have a high-deductible health plan, keeping the amount of your deductible in it can free you from worry in the case of an accident or serious illness. Setting aside just 10% of your income until you have the amount of your deductible saved could mean that you won’t have to use a credit card or get a loan to cover the cost. Consider it a peace of mind fund.
Invest in gap insurance
Just like you can get gap insurance for your vehicle, you can also get it for your health insurance from companies like Aflac or Aetna. It does just what it says: it fills the gap between what your insurance covers and what you have to pay for yourself. Though it may not cover everything, having gap insurance can help to offset the financial burden of a high-deductible plan.