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5 ways to stretch your budget

Make the most of your health care dollars

Did you know open enrollment for 2017 health insurance begins Nov. 1? No matter the size of your budget, these tips can help keep your body and your wallet healthy.

Find out if you qualify for a subsidy. Depending on your income and household size, you may be eligible for a subsidy that lowers your premium. A 2016 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 11.7 million Americans are eligible for financial assistance to gain insurance coverage through either a subsidy or Medicaid. To find out if you are eligible for a subsidy in 2017, check out the health care savings chart on Healthcare.gov.

Understand how your plan works.  “Choosing an insurance plan is a very personal decision,” said Arlene Ferebee, senior director of strategic development with Novant Health. “You need to make sure you are getting the right amount of coverage for your health care needs, at a price that fits your budget.” To find the best plan for you, carefully review the terms so you know what is and what is not covered, what procedures you need to follow to ensure your claims are paid, and which providers and facilities to use to get the most cost-effective care.

 Find a doctor who is a good fit for you. Most insurance plans cover preventative and wellness services, so choosing a primary care provider is an important first step to getting care and staying healthy. Make sure the physician you’re seeing is in-network for your insurance plan to avoid any unsuspected costs, but a good personal fit is important, too. Be open with your physician about your cost concerns and he or she may be able to help you avoid excessive or unnecessary medical costs.

Switch to generic drugs. If you’re not taking them already, ask your physician if there are generic versions of your medications that might work as well for you. Aside from their lowered price tag, many grocery, pharmacy and big-box chain stores offer additional discounts for certain generic prescriptions.

Use retail clinics and urgent care centers. Find yourself sick or injured when your doctor’s office is closed? Instead of heading straight to the emergency room, look for a nearby retail clinic or urgent care. They can provide treatment after hours for many non-life threatening health needs and are cheaper than hospital emergency departments.

Novant Health offers additional resources at NovantHealth.org/healthmarketplace

Published: 1/14/2015
Updated on: 10/24/2016