Ways You Can Save on Health Care Expenses in 2021

Monday, January 11th, 2021

It's no surprise that the cost of healthcare in America can be expensive. According to recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), those with an employer-sponsored health plan paid an average of $5,588 toward the cost of medical coverage. And with the overall costs of health care rising — growing 4.6% to 3.6 trillion in 2018, according to National Health Expenditures data — it's important to see what we can do to shore up savings on healthcare costs in the new year.  What follows is what you can do to save on healthcare expenses in 2021, from myFICO.

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Here are a few ways you can go about it:

Contribute to a Health Savings Account 
If you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you can open what's known as a Health Savings Account (HSA). Through an HSA, contributions you make to your account can go toward qualified medical expenses.

Typically, money from an HSA can be used toward copays, prescriptions, equipment, and supplies that you need due to medical necessity. And due to the CARES Act, some tweaks to the existing rules have been made to make it even easier to use your HSA funds to save on healthcare. You can get reimbursed for over-the-counter medication and products without a doctor's note, and feminine hygiene products are also included.

In 2020, the most you can contribute if you're an individual is $3,550, and $7,100for families. For the 2021 tax year, the IRS has announced that the max contribution limits will be bumped up slightly: $3,600 for individual plans and $7,200 for family coverage.

Use Apps to Save on Prescriptions
Americans spent an average of $1,025 on prescription drugs in 2017, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). To give you a sense of perspective on rising costs (and to account for inflation), the average in 1960 was $90.

Tap into tech and use apps that help you save on prescription medications. There is a handful out there. For starters, GoodRx lists the price of a certain medication at pharmacies near you. It also includes coupons for some prescription drugs.

Besides the free version, GoodRx offers a Gold tier for $5.99 a month. While the Gold version could potentially help you save more, it depends on your ongoing medications and how much more of a discount you could net by paying the subscription fee. If you decide to subscribe to the Gold tier, just remember to work that into your 2021 budget. 

Along the same lines, ScriptSave Rx will help you determine which nearby pharmacy has the lowest price for your prescriptions. You pop in your zip code and the name of the medication, and you can poke around the app to find the lowest price.

Buy Prescriptions in Bulk
Another way to save on prescription medications is to buy bulk, suggests Laura Coleman, an adoption financial coach, accredited financial counselor, and founder of Family Money Coaching.

If it's an ongoing medication that you always take, then getting a 90-day supply versus a 30-day supply can often save you money. Ask your doctor if you can get a prescription so you can stock up.

Negotiate Your Medical Debt
If you're part of a third of Americans saddled with medical debt, try to negotiate down the amount you owe, suggests Coleman. If you have some cash on hand, you might be able to bring down the amount you owe substantially.

In Coleman's case, when her husband was hospitalized last year and diagnosed with diabetes, they were able to negotiate an 80% discount on the hospital bills by paying in cash.

If you're not in a place to offer cash upfront, see if you can work out a payment plan. One way you could potentially save is to ask for a discount if you pay early or are on an accelerated repayment schedule.

With the increasing rise of healthcare costs, tapping into these tactics and tools can help you save in 2021. And the more you save, the greater your overall well-being will be.