Each year millions of people set New Year’s resolutions to get organized, lose weight, earn more money — the list of self-improvement ventures can go on and on. While these goals might be inspirational kick-starters, the motivation many times fades away before January is even over.
How can you make healthy changes stick for a lifetime? While slimming your waistline can be pivotal for better health, changing lifelong eating habits is difficult. Instead of just choosing one temporary solution to change your health, think about reorganizing big-picture items that will have long term effects, review where changes can be made, set a budget and start saving.
There are multiple ways to think about your financial health. Supplemental health insurance plans, health savings accounts, shopping for a new health insurance plan and more can help get your health care budget on track. Here’s how you can kick start those healthy ideas:
Get Supplemental Insurance Coverage
Even with a moderate income and emergency savings, high deductible health plans can cut into any family’s budget. According to Kaiser Family News, some marketplace consumers are spending 25% of their income on health insurance alone. Add unexpected medical costs that come from an accident or newly diagnosed critical illness and an emergency savings account and other savings can get drained almost immediately. But before dipping into retirement savings or placing medical debt on a credit card, look into supplemental health insurance.
Supplemental insurance can take care of medical bills incurred due to an accident or illness, which are not covered by health insurance because the high deductible has yet to be met. Simple injuries like a child’s broken arm can cost thousands of dollars, but if your family insurance deductible is $5,000 or more, the total cost of fixing a broken arm can be completely your responsibility. Supplemental health insurance pays cash for these types of accidents or an illness diagnosis in one lump sum, allowing you to pay medical bills, the mortgage, car payment - whatever you want to use the money for.
PRO TIP: Look for supplemental insurance plans that cover more than just one benefit, like an accident. Supplemental plans with bundled accident, critical illness and disability insurance cover more instances of life.
Open Up or Bone Up a Health Savings Account
Health insurance plans with a minimum deductible of $2,600 per family may qualify as a high deductible health plan that can be coupled with a health savings account (HSA). The benefit of an HSA is being able to save money tax-free for health care and medical expenses. Individuals and families can save up to 30% or more by contributing cash directly into their HSA. Here’s how it works:
Typically every dollar is taxed approximately 30% (by the federal government), but with an HSA, money can be deposited without being taxed, providing more cash to help pay for health care costs. While HSAs have deposit limits each year, individuals over age 55 can deposit $1,000 more than their younger counterparts, and once they turn 65, they can turn the HSA into a retirement savings account.
PRO TIP: Make sure your health savings account includes a debit card, which allows you to pay for healthcare expenses directly from the account, never affecting your family’s personal checking account.
Shop Your Health Insurance
Each year the open enrollment period allows people to select a new health insurance plan. Costs go up, deductibles change and doctor networks can readjust to offset the rising cost of health care. Whether purchasing health insurance through an employer or through the federal, state or private marketplace, you have the opportunity to shop for a new health care plan. Employer options can be more limiting than buying on the public or private marketplace, but it’s wise to understand what changes are being made to your insurance plan each year and select coverage that is the best fit for both your medical and lifestyle needs.
On the public and private marketplace, costs can widely differ from year to year, and networks can change without notice. By shopping all plan options and comparing several plans with your existing coverage, a determination can be made as to whether a new plan should be purchased or if the existing coverage still meets your needs and budget constraints.
PRO TIP: If you have a “qualifying life event” outside of the open enrollment period (marriage, new baby or change in family size, moving to a new ZIP code, divorce, etc.) you are able to change your existing health insurance coverage to an entirely different plan.
Use Telemedicine Instead of Urgent Care
The average cost of an urgent care visit is $150, compared to a $40 telemedicine consultation, usually performed over the telephone or face-to-face video. U.S. board certified doctors can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for nearly any non-emergency medical and emotional health condition. Some of the most common issues physicians treat are coughs, colds and sore throats, flu, pediatric issues, nausea and diarrhea, rashes and skin Issues, UTIs, prescription refills and more.
Savings Alert: Telemedicine services are FREE with every HealthValues membership! Get expert care and diagnosis whenever you need it, free of charge.
Be Earnest About Saving
A Fidelity Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimate found that a couple retiring this year at age 65 will need $490,000 in savings just to pay for healthcare expenses during retirement. This is a stark reminder of how important saving before age 65 really is. It’s also important to remember that Medicare is scheduled to be depleted in 2026 and Social Security benefits will run dry in 2033. But think positively, make smart choices about your health care dollars and save every nickle and dime you have until retirement.
PRO TIP: Set goals that are realistic (no matter what the size) and commit to putting away $25, $100 or $500 every month for retirement.
With a mindset of “savings,” you can become more productive with your money, build future wealth and have the funds to pay for your family’s health care and health insurance expenses.