Although cringe-worthy, according to eHealth, “the average of an individual health insurance plan is $440 for an individual and $1,168 for a family.” Premiums are rising and people can’t afford their medical bills. After all, 66.5 percent of bankruptcies are tied to medical issues (via CNBC).

While tax credits and health insurance marketplaces can help some people, not everyone qualifies. Here are five simple ways to save money on health care.

Pick the right insurance policy—and understand what it covers

This might sound silly, but far too many people choose insurance policies that aren’t right for them, and many more don’t understand what their policy covers. People are drawn to plans with lower premiums because it entails they will spend less money on a monthly basis. However, lower premiums typically mean higher deductibles which means more money if you have a medical problem or an ongoing issue.

Lower-premium plans are ideal for people with a clean bill of health, not to mention people who don’t make doctor visits many times a year and don’t need medication. However, every plan is different and that’s why it’s important for you to pick the right insurance policy—one that’s tailored to your medical needs.

During this process, you need to understand how much doctor visits, medication, and lab tests cost. Start with your health concerns and then find a plan that fits into your wants and needs.

If you can’t decide on a plan or are in between plans because of work or another life-changing event, then short term health plans could be your best option. These plans typically offer major medical benefits in the case of unexpected accidents or illnesses and are ideal during a transition or gap between insurance.

Buy medication in bulk

If you purchase medication because of an ongoing illness, then buying your medication in bulk can save you money. We understand that not everyone has the luxury of buying medication in bulk as it means paying more now as opposed to later, but having the ability to do so can significantly cut down on your medication costs.

Ask for samples and generic drugs

Another option to reduce the costs of medication is to ask your doctor for samples or generic drugs. Not only are generic drugs cheaper, but not all health insurances cover the brand name drugs, and there are alternatives to drugs with similar ingredients. Samples likely won’t cover you for an entire month, but they’re still free products and can add up over time.

Ask for discounts

It doesn’t always work, but another way to save money on health care is by asking for a discount or negotiating your medical bills. You can negotiate payment terms or ask for a discount if you pay in cash or before a procedure occurs. Cash can save the doctor’s office money on processing fees, but you, of course, need the cash on hand to benefit with this savings tip.

Consider long-term effects and costs

If you push off a medical issue to save money in the short-term, you could end up paying more money in the long-term. Pushing off a medical issue can also lead to symptoms and diagnoses worsening. A medical procedure might be costly in the present, but it could be the best option for you.

As an example, if there’s an alternative procedure that can help but your health insurance provider doesn’t cover some or all of the costs, you have to consider long-term effects and costs of not getting the procedure done immediately. Alternative treatments such as platelet rich plasma therapy can help with the loss of joint cartilage which can be painful and debilitating, as well as other therapy uses (inflammation and arthritis). You should never let a health condition go untreated and you should always consider your options and compare treatments.

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