By Scott Josephs, M.D., National Medical Officer, Cigna
As health costs continue to rise, you may be wondering if it’s possible to stay healthy and save money. You’re not alone. A national survey from Cigna found that more than three out of four consumers fear health costs could jeopardize their chances of a secure retirement. Forty-four percent worry that costs will hinder their ability to pay for their child’s college education.
So how do you manage health costs and stay healthy? Here are some tips:
Review your options.
Cigna's survey found that half of consumers spend one hour or less choosing a health plan. Take time to consider all your options. Think about your health needs for the upcoming year and which plan best meets those needs. Don’t just look at the cost of your health plan. Consider which benefits are included and know what your deductible or copayment is. (Not sure what those terms mean? Check out our glossary). The more time you spend picking a plan up front, the fewer surprises you’ll have when it’s time to use that plan.
Take advantage of the “extras.”
Many health plans offer added benefits, so take advantage of them! For example, some plans offer incentives for joining a gym or fitness club, or health coaches who can work with you to set goals and address health issues before they become more serious (and costly).
Prevention is key to staying healthy and avoiding added costs down the road. Make sure you know which services are considered preventive care. Many health plans cover these services with no out-of-pocket costs.
We shop around for clothes, groceries and cars – why not health care? Prices vary significantly per facility and location so it pays to do your research in advance. Many health plans like Cigna offer free online tools and apps that let you compare costs of hospitals and doctors. That way, you can budget appropriately.
We can’t prepare for everything. But we can budget for it. When thinking about your health costs for the year, be sure to set aside extra funds for unexpected expenses. Think about opening a health savings account or flexible spending account to save tax-free dollars for qualified medical expenses.
Confused about your benefits? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call your health plan’s customer service number or talk with your employer’s HR department. Make sure you have all the information before an appointment or treatment. Also, be sure to review your health plan’s explanation of benefits (a statement from your insurer explaining what medical treatments and/or services were paid for on your behalf). There could be billing errors or discrepancies that end up saving you money.
For more tips on how to manage health costs, check out Cigna.com/knowyourbenefits.
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