With all the talk about health care reform, more web outlets are coming out with formulas to help figure out your own personal health care costs. The results – unique in the way they’re calculated – might surprise you.
Americans are looking for anyway they can to cut costs in a deep recession – and health care expenses are a good place to look, especially with the media spotlight heating up on the health care reform debate coming out of Washington.
Thus, consumers have seen a rise in online calculators that help people get a health expenses check-up. Web sites like Money-zine, Payflex.com, and Intuit (Stock Quote: INTU) all have easy-to-use calculators that help people figure out what they’re spending on health care.
In a test drive of each site by BankingMyway.com, all of the above sites are free, and each places a priority on ease-of-use and helping you calculate your health care costs down to the last dime.
To calculate your health expenses online, you’ll need to do some prep work first. Be ready to track all doctor and hospital visits; all money spent on prescription drugs; all dental care visits; all health insurance payments (including co-pays) – even all visits to a therapist and fees paid for things like gym memberships, prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and psycho-therapy sessions.
Make sure to include all family medical expenses, too. Any health care costs for your spouse and kids will need to be included in your online calculations
Once you figure out how much you’re spending on health care on an annual basis, then you can begin the process of figuring out ways to cut costs. Some tips include:
Negotiating medical services – You can cut your medical bills by asking your doctor for a discount if you pay cash. Physicians hate paperwork and there’s a good chance you can cut a deal if you bring the greenbacks. This tactic works best of you have a high-deductible insurance policy.
Switch to generic prescriptions – Brand name prescription drugs can cost an arm and a leg to fix an arm or a leg. Keep drug costs down by opting for generic drugs – but make sure you specifically ask your doctor for a generic prescription. Also, check online for generic prescription drugs – there is no shortage of online pharmacies that offer these on the cheap.
Get a health savings account – Health savings accounts (HSAs) allow you to use pre-tax cash to pay your health care bills. 2009 figures allow you (and your family) to contribute $5,950 while individuals can contribute $3,000. HSA account holders and/or their spouses over age 55 but not yet on Medicare can make a $1,000 catch-up contribution also. HSA participants usually get high-deductible health insurance plans (for emergencies) and pay for out-of-pocket expenses with their HSA cash.
Figuring out where you stand with your health care expenses is a critical first step in defraying them. Use one of the calculators listed above to get you on the road to good fiscal financial fitness.
—For the best rates on auto, home owners, term life and health insurance, check out the BankingMyWay.com Insurance Center.