Health care is something that most Americans overlook when budgeting. Medical debt can get out of control if you don’t have health insurance or you don’t plan ahead for unexpected health care expenses.
But how do you plan ahead for health care expenses?
Here are a few tips that can help you start the planning process:
- Research health insurance plans and medical costs. To plan ahead for your health care expenses, you will need to understand what type of health insurance plan you have and the medical costs that you may incur in the upcoming year.
- Determine how much to save based on your deductible, co-payments/co-insurance and/or out-of-pocket maximums. You can contact your health insurance provider to find out the amount of your deductible.
- Estimate how much to save based on any medical bills you received in the previous year.
- Calculate how much to save based on any prescriptions you had to pay for in the previous year.
- Attend workshops and seminars presented by your employer or health insurance organization to get a better understanding of how to get the most out of your health insurance plan (and spend the least amount of money out of your own pocket).
Everyone’s situation will be different. Use what you think will be best for you to determine how to save money on your health care costs.
- Start the planning and budgeting process. A best practice is to use a budgeting tool to outline all of your monthly expenses, including any estimated health care costs. A visual map of your financial plan will give you something to follow to ensure you are meeting your savings targets every month.
- Consider Opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). These enable you to save for health care expenses in advance (on a pre-tax basis). Not only are the funds untaxed, they can also be used to cover the cost of co-payments, co-insurance, out-of-pocket maximums, and prescriptions.
The Bottom Line: You’ll Save Money in the Long Run
Ultimately, planning ahead for health care expenses is like planning ahead for retirement. With retirement, you plan ahead to cover all of your bills in the future. The same concept applies for health care expenses. The money you save will enable you to cover the costs of any medical expenses you incur in the future.