Top Tips That Help You Save on Medical Bills Before They Arrive

Guest Post By: Colleen McGuire, VP of Communications at Healthcare.com


Full disclosure – this article is about health insurance. Yes, dull, even yawn-worthy health insurance. But before you click away because you think this article will be a snoozefest, you should know this could be the best financial advice you’ll get this week.

First, here are a few little known facts about healthcare plans to get you thinking:

  • It is illegal to be uninsured. There are exceptions, but the majority of individuals must have health insurance or they will be fined by the government.

If you’re wondering why you have never heard of these rules, you’re not alone. More than 40% of Americans do not realize they face a tax penalty if they don’t have health insurance. And nearly half of those who had a health insurance plan in 2014 let it auto-renew for another year without price shopping for a lower cost plan.

To get you on the fast track of financial healthcare protection before the medical bills start to arrive. You need to think about these top five considerations.

1.  Review health plans side by side. Most individuals have an average of 30 health insurance plans to choose from, so it’s important to compare price, and every out-of-pocket cost you could incur that comes from a deductible, copays and coinsurance. A $100 a month health insurance might look attractive on paper, but if you have a health condition or take several prescription drugs, a richer plan for $225 a month that pays for more care could actually save you money in the long run. HealthCare.com   Search and Compare Health Insurance Plans

2. Research the big words. Most individuals don’t know the ins- and outs of health insurance terminology, which can lead to surprise medical bills. Do the math in advance. If the healthcare plan you are interested in has 80% coinsurance on inpatient hospital care, that means you will have to pay the remaining 20% of medical services. If you know you will have at least one hospital stay during the year, add that 20% estimated expense into your total out of pocket calculation when comparing plans.

3. Check the network. If you are committed to one doctor, clinic or hospital, make sure they are “in-network” so you don’t pay out-of-network prices, which cost more than in-network pricing. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor in your area, provider networks can vary in size. The insurance company you are considering should be able to tell you which network covers your doctor, clinic or hospital, and how big of a region the network covers, should you not have a set doctor in place.

4. See if you qualify for help from Uncle Sam. More than 87% of Americans who have health insurance through the federal marketplace qualified for a financial subsidy to help with the overall cost of their health insurance in 2015. Many states are reporting that the average health insurance customer is paying around $100 a month for a healthcare plan. If you accurately report your income for the year when applying for a healthcare plan, there’s little downside to taking a subsidy to help with your health insurance costs.

5. Don’t be illegal. Remember that little known fact from early in this article? Having a healthcare plan is required by most Americans, and can result in a fine of $325 per person or 2% of your income for 2015, whichever is higher. That equates to approximately $1,500 in fines per family. The fee is applied to your income taxes, so if you expect a refund every year but don’t have health insurance, you could wind up paying the government instead of the other way around. The fine goes up to $695 per person in 2016, or 2.5% of your income.

One last quick tip – if you already have health insurance but have a “life event” this year, you could qualify for a special open enrollment period to change your health insurance plan. A qualifying life event includes losing your health insurance coverage from your employer, getting married, getting divorced, having a baby or adopting a child, moving to a new ZIP code or having a change to your reported income level that impacts your subsidy. If one of these events happens to you, it’s an excellent time to look at your potential medical expenses in the coming months and review your healthcare coverage.

Once you have your health insurance ID cards in hand, you can continue saving on your medical bills by using services like SaveOnMedical.com. It’s vital to your healthcare finances to be an advocate of your healthcare every step of the way, from health insurance purchases, to procedure price shopping to understanding your medical bills to ensure they are accurate. You, the consumer – the patient – are always in control.

This information is courtesy of HealthCare.com, the nation’s leading health insurance search engine and comparison tool.

 

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Save On Medical Launches Surgery Price Shopping

At Save On Medical, we know that there are huge variations in health care costs across the country, especially when it comes to surgery prices. In fact according to a report by Blue Cross Blue Shield,prices can vary from $16,772 to $61,585 in Dallas, Texas for a knee replacement while a hip replacement in Boston, Massachusetts can range from $17,910 to $73,987. Can you imagine paying $56,077 more for a procedure than you really had to, with absolutely no difference in quality? You could buy a brand new BMW 4 Series convertible for that price!

With the rise in high-deductible plans and patients paying out-of-pocket for medical procedures, patients need a way to act as consumer-driven shoppers. This is why we created Save On Medical in the first place. Now, for the first time, Save On Medical will make it easy for patients shop online for both radiology and surgical procedures.

It’s important that patients can find surgery costs and understand what they will be responsible for so there won’t be a sticker shock associated with their medical bills. Shopping around can also help them find more affordable options, cutting down what they will owe out-of-pocket.

 Surgery cost variation

Save On Medical is now inviting new surgical providers to join our website from cities across the country. Currently, we have 25% of the country’s outpatient imaging centers participating as a part of our network of physicians, which we will only continue to grow. Our website has served over 16,000 patients shopping for radiology procedures and now we want to help patients who are seeing huge price gaps in surgical procedures as well.

Find Deals In Your Area - (Search for affordable care in your area today by clicking here: Save On Medical Procedures)

If our top newspapers’ headlines are any indication of how necessary this next step is, then we decided that we owed it to patients to use our expertise in price transparency and consumer-driven care to move towards surgery.  Over the next few months we’ll be adding large surgery providers to our website, making it easy for patients to compare prices for procedures like:

  • Arthroscopy Procedures
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Carpal Tunnel Release
  • Plantar Faciotomy
  • Hernia Procedures
  • Neuroplasty
  • Hemorrhoidectomy
  • Spinal Surgery
  • Cervical Epidural
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Cochlear Implant
  • Septoplsty
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Cystocopy
  • Hysterectomy
  • Biposies
  • Colonoscopies
  • And many more

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Save On Medical’s Best Week Ever

You’re cordially invited to Save On Medical’s Best Week Ever. That’s right. Someone better call VH1, because next week might just be the greatest week we’ve ever had. What is going to make the week of January 26th so fabulous?

Best Week Ever Save On Medical First of all, on Tuesday, January 27th we will be participating in Florida Next’s Pitch6 Event as a part of Bright House Network’s Regional Business Awards at MOSI. To say we are excited would be an understatement. Not only do we have the opportunity to share Save On Medical with a bevy of new people, but also we will be competing Shark-Tank-Style against five other Tampa-based startups for $1 Million worth of advertising dollars. Save On Medical commercials, coming your way soon. Fingers crossed!

This made for television competition will be a can’t-miss-event and we are #blessed to have so many of our supporters in attendance. (Shout out to Florida Blue and Healthbox.) If you want to come check out Matt and Chris’ presentation, learn more about Tampa’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs, or just take advantage of some free food and drinks, you can buy your tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/pitch-6-tickets-15009352377

Since we’re friends now, you can use promo code: friendofpitch6 to get tickets for just $10. The party pitch event starts at 5:00 PM.

 

Next, we’ll be taking our talents to South Beach. Well, Hollywood, Florida to be exact. Save On Medical is pleased to announce that we have been selected to be one of the presenters at Florida’s largest venture capital conference on January 29th and 30th.  We are looking forward to the awesome opportunity to discuss Save On Medical’s success so far, share our plans for growth and announce some exciting new features being added to the website.

 

Last but not least, next weekend is Tampa’s Gasparilla Parade! (Learn about Gasparilla here) This isn’t necessarily related to Save On Medical, but any time your company’s home town gets overrun by pirates and essentially shuts down for a weekend-long party, you know it’s going to be a good week. Please enjoy these #tbt photos of our fearless leader, Chris Christenberry decked out head-to-toe in his pirate costume from last year. It’s a look that is hard to achieve. Chris Christenberry Gasparilla

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2015 Price Transparency Resolutions

What’s that people say about better late than never? Well we are already 2 weeks into the New Year and we thought it was about time we shared our New Year’s Resolutions with everyone. 2015 is going to be the year of Save On Medical and we are beyond excited for all of the huge announcements we will have to share throughout the year. In the next few weeks, we’ll be QUITE busy between presenting at Florida’s largest venture capital conference and competing in BrightHouse Network’s Pitch 6 Event at home in Tampa.

There is much to do before Gasparilla weekend when pirates start to invade our home in Tampa, but what better time is there to set our 2015 goals?

Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa

Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa

 

Resolution #1: We are proud to see 25% of the country’s imaging centers as part of our website, but we would love to see that number much closer to 100% so that we can help more patients. We have great traction in some of the country’s most uninsured states (Florida, California, Texas etc.), we’ve attracted providers in rural areas (ex: Kearney, Nebraska) and even large metro markets (ex: New York City, Los Angeles) but we are not finished yet. We want to break into states where we currently don’t have providers and add even more in the areas with great coverage so patients have OPTIONS.

Resolution #2: We started in Radiology because it has the most price shopped medical procedures, but we recognize that patients deserve price transparency in other health care niches too. This is why we will be adding surgical procedures to the site at the beginning of 2015. Soon, Save On Medical will have pricing for over 500 ambulatory surgery centers across the U.S.

Resolution #3:  Our website is a great tool for uninsured patients or patients shopping around comparing prices for a procedure their insurance won’t cover. We want Save On Medical to be a solution for patients with insurance too though. Wouldn’t it be great to see how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket with your insurance versus a self-pay rate? Better yet, if you can go through your insurance, if we could help you submit your payment to insurance with just one click? In 2015, Save On Medical will make that a reality.

Resolution #4: We built Save On Medical for patients AND providers, so we want to continue to improve our website so that it’s a better tool for physicians. Imagine how easy it would be for a doctor to refer a patient to a specialist through a seamless app in which the patient could pick which provider they want to see.  We’ll be working towards that goal as well.

 

We can’t wait to see what the rest of 2015 has in store for us. What are your healthcare resolutions?

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Price Transparency Infographic

price-transparency-infographic (1)Price Transparency Infographic

 

Source: Truven Health - http://truvenhealth.com/portals/0/images/infographic/price-transparency-infographic.pdf

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