I opened my health insurance bill the other day to find my premiums had increased by more than $100 a month. That’s more than the $95 my bill went up the year before, making my premiums over 40% higher than they were two years ago. This, with the myriad of other “life” costs that have increased in a short period of time. I need a pot of gold or a money tree.
Right, since the gold pot and dollar tree probably won’t happen anytime soon, I’m turning to technology to help streamline my healthcare costs. Although I might only save a dollar here or a dollar there, I’ll take it. As we all know, it adds up. Maybe the money saved can pay for my kids’ braces.
Here are some websites I’m considering:
Link to your health plan online and Simplee displays it in an easy-to-view format. In other words, quickly see what your plan covers, its deductibles, and co-pays. Simplee also shows your spending and divides your medical bills into how much each service costs by category, the amount that is your responsibility and what your insurance company pays (I personally see a lot of big, fat zeros). Another cool feature is that Simplee stores your doctor bills in one online place and organizes it so you can at a glance see what it was for, any outstanding balances and more. Even better, Simplee will cross-check medical claims and alert you to any duplicate charges. The site also allows you to research other health plans and find one that is a better fit medically and financially.
By seeing so clearly what I’m spending, I can stay on top of ways to save money and strategize how to meet my healthcare needs without seeing doctors out of network or choosing hospital visits over urgent care (my plan charges less for urgent care). To use the app, you’ll need to have a health plan that allows online access, but even then, keep in mind that Simplee doesn’t support all plans. Check out the app to see if your plan is supported.
This site is like the Progressive Insurance of healthcare plans. Just enter your criteria and HealthPocket shows all insurance plans supported in your area and lets you filter the results by prescription coverage, cost, co-pays, etc. As the website explains, HealthPocket obtains its data from unbiased government, nonprofit and commercial sources, and includes ratings from independent reviewers. If you’re shopping for a new healthcare plan, this site is a good place to start and can certainly save you from overpaying for insurance and avoidable out-of-pocket costs.
Healthcare Blue Book (healthcarebluebook.com)
This website prompts you to research the fair prices charged for common healthcare services such as office visits, surgeries, and lab tests. Developed on the premise that knowing average healthcare costs before you receive treatment will allow you to negotiate better rates, Healthcare Blue Book shares that the same MRI costs between $500 and $3,000 no matter the insurer. I can share that in my experience, this is true. When I received a bill for $1,600 for a recent MRI, I called the office and asked to pay the out-of-pocket price (i.e. not the price the lab charges the insurance company), and was told I could pay $500 even and the bill would be settled. Healthcare Blue Book further asserts that providers’ billed amounts tend to be 2 to 5 times higher than the allowed amount they accept from the insurance company as payment in full. Knowing the fair market price for healthcare services empowers you to lower your bill with some good old fashioned – and informed – negotiating.
Healthcare costs continue to rise – and rise and rise. Knowing your options and tracking costs can help you regain some sense of control and, in the best case scenario, save you some money.
What do you do to save on healthcare?