Out-of-pocket payments are direct payments patients make to healthcare providers at the time-of-service use. For the past few years, the U.S. government has enacted policies and launched healthcare programs to reduce out-of-pocket payments, which are considered regressive and a barrier to healthcare utilization.
Nonetheless, consumer-out-of-pocket spending on healthcare continues to grow and is projected to reach $491.6 billion, translating to $1,650 per person.
Out-of-pocket healthcare costs put a financial strain on patients, especially if they have to borrow funds from financial institutions.
As out-of-pocket healthcare costs continue to grow, patients can adopt these strategies to limit their healthcare expenditure.
Utilize Patient Financing Programs
Patient financing programs – externally funded loan programs, medical credit cards, and internally funded loan programs – help patients eliminate the financial barrier that prevents patients from getting quality healthcare. Patients will not have to worry about huge out-of-pocket spending through patient financing programs as they can spread the costs over time.
Patient medical financing programs offer patients the ability to spread payments over months instead of having to pay upfront, easing their stress and allowing them to make decisions about medical treatments without any financial pressure.
In addition, a patient medical financing program helps reduce bad debt on patient receivables, improve patient satisfaction, manage out-of-pocket costs, and improve patient collections.
Explore Prescription Drug Discount Programs
Prescription discount programs are designed to help patients afford their medication by lowering prescription costs, whether they have a prescription insurance plan or not.
The prescription drug discount cards are usually offered by companies that work as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The cost of medications can sometimes add up quickly, making it difficult for patients without insurance to buy prescribed drugs.
Apply for prescription drug discount cards to enjoy saving for brands and generic medications. In addition, opting for generic versions will help lower your out-of-pocket medical expenses and save money on prescription drugs.
Utilize a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a bank account patients use to save money for medical expenses, whereas a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a pre-tax saving account provided by employers for any health plan.
An HSA helps reduce patients’ out-of-pocket spending as it lowers taxes and pays for healthcare and out-of-pocket costs that are not covered by a health plan.
In addition, HSA is a retirement saving plan because you can use the funds for any purpose after attaining the age of 65. Even though FSA does not earn interest like HSA, you can use the money to pay for certain out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
Explore Health Insurance Plans Prices and Benefits
Health insurance plans protect patients from unexpected, high medical costs because they get to pay less for covered in-network health care. Health insurance plans reduce out-of-pocket spending because you will get free preventive care services even before meeting your deductible.
Studies show that many patients who buy health insurance policies spend more than 10% of their income on deductibles, premiums, and out-of-pocket payments. Even though health insurance plans can help reduce out-of-pocket spending, you should explore prices and policies offered by different insurance providers to avoid overpaying.
Opt for Doctors and Providers In-Network
Many Americans spend a significant portion of their income on health insurance, which can be reduced by opting for in-network insurance providers and doctors. An in-network healthcare provider has a contract with your health insurance plan to offer healthcare services at a pre-negotiated rate.
The cost-saving relationship between healthcare providers and insurance plans helps reduce out-of-pocket spending for patients. Choosing an out-of-network is not usually a good option as you will end up spending more on healthcare than in-network providers.
Discuss Your Financial Concerns with the Doctor
Even though medical costs continue to rise, healthcare providers prioritize marinating long-term relationships with their clients. One of the strategies that healthcare providers use to maintain long-term relationships with patients is offering discounts.
After exploring all your cost-saving options, consider discussing your financial concerns with your doctor. Today, many doctors are open to negotiating prices of healthcare services, particularly in competitive environments, which can help cut patient costs.
Many Americans prioritize healthcare, but the high cost of healthcare and provider billings mistakes have created a barrier to utilizing quality healthcare.
Even with health insurance plans, many patients still incur out-of-pocket medical costs. With these strategies for reducing out-of-pocket expenditure, you can always keep your medical bills in check.