Something as vital as healthcare should not be neglected, but unfortunately for us, it does tend to be unaffordable and inaccessible for the most part. Recently, healthcare costs have risen to ungodly levels, and it is certainly difficult to pay up, especially if you have a lower-than-average income. Even if it’s affordable for you, the monthly costs rack up and significantly dent your ability to live a high-quality life.
The main reason behind unsustainable healthcare costs is the rising cost of insurance and the accompanying premiums. Regarding covering health care costs, individuals believe that they primarily have two options: either pay up hefty amounts right now or pay increasing amounts of dollars over the long term.
Neither of them sounds particularly appealing, but you do have a better option: going for a healthcare plan that is cheap enough to start with. This is tricky because it requires you to do your homework and be aware of all the mechanisms that you can exploit to lower your costs in this domain. Therefore, without further ado, let us dive into the list of ways you can significantly reduce your healthcare burden, and we will also discuss some programs and plans in Maryland that you can take advantage of.
How to reduce your healthcare costs (in 14 simple steps!)
- Stay healthy
The first thing that you have to realize is that it is imperative that you prioritize your health, especially if you are serious about lowering your healthcare costs. Engage in regular exercise, avoid junk food and adopt a clean and balanced diet and avoid any vices, such as smoking and drinking (or at least keep them to a minimum). The healthier you are as an individual, the lesser you will have to rely on healthcare plans hence the lower your incurred costs.
- Seek out discounts
We try to obtain discounts in a whole host of activities, be it fine dining or shopping for clothes, but we hardly do it for our insurance plans, which is regretful, considering that they end up helping immensely in keeping overall costs manageable. Therefore, do make an effort to find out if you are eligible for any discounts, benefits or any form of help from the government that will make the process smoother for you.
- Go for an HMO
Most people don’t even know what an HMO is, which is a result of how little we know or care about health insurance. However, learning about it can go a long way in alleviating any concerns and worries that you harbor concerning handling your insurance costs.
There are essentially two bodies that you rely on for healthcare insurance coverage: HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) and PPO (Preferred Provider Organization). A PPO gives you more flexibility and freedom, but it is also more costly as compared to an HMO.
Another reason to opt for an HMO is that you get one primary care physician who refers you to a specialist, and the good thing about this is that it eliminates beyond network coverage costs thereby making lowering your overall monthly costs.
- Hire a health insurance broker
It helps to have the right talent and expertise at your side when you are dabbling in something as complicated as this. For instance, if you wanted to deal with a lawsuit, you would make sure that you had the best possible attorney at your side.
Similarly, there are loads of parts that are difficult to figure out in health insurance, for which you can hire a health insurance broker. Such a licensed professional will guide you and assist you in finding the perfect plan for you.
- Look around for the best plan
Speaking of perfect plans for you, it is worth your while to look around for the most appropriate health care plans around before you make a final decision. Compare all of the available health insurance quotes and conduct your research comprehensively.
- Find out about high-deductible health plans
If you don’t visit your physician or doctor all that often, the best thing you can do is to invest in a high-deductible health plan. Do set aside an adequate amount of money in case you end up requiring more healthcare services down the road.
- Inspect your bill closely
The bill is the one document which tends to be overlooked the most, even though the repercussions of doing so can be severe. As it happens, errors are frequently made in bills, and it is, therefore, necessary to check it closely for discrepancies and clear things which are not comprehensible or certain to you.
- Seek out plans which specifically offer discounts
Health insurance companies often offer discounts and other incentives to motivate you to invest in them hence try to keep an eye out for them. Fitness tracker companies, in particular, tend to partner up with such companies and the offer benefits based on how well you have managed to achieve your fitness goals.
- Select a plan that you can couple with a savings account
Any plans that you can pair up with savings accounts tend to have higher deductibles. Furthermore, these savings accounts are tax-free or tax-deductible thereby making it easier for you to cover your costs.
- Know about all available options
Once again, this is all about being vigilant and aware of health insurance plans and policies in your region. Find out if cheaper alternatives are available, and if medicine can be obtained at a lower cost than usual.
- Be smart with your medicine purchase
You can get the same medicine for a different price, depending on where you make your purchase. Perhaps you are going to get it cheaper from Walmart, or maybe you will find it to be more affordable from a local pharmacy.
- Check for mail-order options
If you take prescription drugs on a regular basis, you are better off with a mail-order option.
- Learn how to save on procedures and tests
As you may already know, it is not important to take all the procedures and tests. You can consult with your physician as to which ones are unnecessary, and drop them accordingly, to lower your costs.
- Educate yourself…as much as you can
Finally, as this list so far has already made clear, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself on the specifics of health insurance offered in Maryland to allow yourself to make the best possible decision.
Calling all the self-employed individuals for healthcare coverage
You are considered self-employed if you run a business that generates income, but you don’t have any employees. You can rely on the Health Insurance Marketplace if you are a freelancer, independent contractor or any other form of a self-employed individual.
The coverage options for self-employed individuals include premium tax credits and other savings on health plans. It is worth noting that this will depend on your income and household size. Do check up on Medicaid and CHIP programs available in Maryland as well to find out if you are eligible for free or low-cost coverage. Finally, to ensure that your expected income is in the right range, for which you have to have to be able to predict your income for the coming month or year.
Estimating your income as a self-employed individual
To start with, try to come up with the best estimate for your self-employment income and expenses for the year, based on past information, expectations, and industry standards. Moreover, you will also be required to upload a self-employment ledger to verify your income. There isn’t any specific format over here; all you have to do is to provide an accurate record of your income and expenditures.
To summarize, as a self-employed resident of Maryland, you will have to be aware and educated concerning health care plans and policies of the region. You will have to seek out discounts and benefits that will enable you to lower your monthly and yearly costs, and thoroughly inspect all documents involved, especially bills.
Search up programs such as those offered by Medicaid to find out what plans exist to make it easier for you as a self-employed person to reduce your costs. This could include anything from government assistance to special benefits and discounts. Ultimately, the major pre-requisite for taking advantage of these programs is to properly report your expected income, which you can do either by taking help from a professional or by coming up with a fairly decent estimate yourself, based on several factors.
Healthcare is a privilege that can’t be taken lightly. The associated costs keep skyrocketing, and it becomes hard for the average man to pay for it, and it ends up being a major liability instead of the asset that it was supposed to be.