We get it. This stuff’s expensive. But there may be ways to keep your costs down.

Advanced Premium Tax Credits –ACA Plans Only

Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for a tax credit to help pay for your health insurance – available through the Federal Health Exchange (www.healthcare.gov) or your state’s own State-Based Health Exchange. These were designed specifically to help freelancers, self-employed individuals and others control the costs of their coverage.  However, based on total income many other individuals could qualify.

Depending on the state you live in, you may have your own State-Based Exchange. If not, the Federal Health Exchange is your access point to see if you qualify.

Health Savings Account –High-Deductible Health Plans Only

If you have a high-deductible health plan, this is a bank account that lets you put money aside, tax-free, to save and pay for health care expenses. Any money you don’t spend at the end of the year is still yours to keep. A health savings account can be a smart way to get more value for your dollar because it is untaxed.

Network

Different health coverage plans have contracted a specific network of facilities, providers and suppliers to provide health care services. This means they have negotiated and agreed to better rates for service. By staying in your plan’s network for your care, you’ll likely pay less in overall costs.

Health Maintenance Organization (or HMO)

Selecting an HMO plan normally costs less in the upfront, however your care choices are usually more limited. The main thing to remember is this type of coverage will not cover any costs for care outside of your network (see above). This means if you are diligent in only seeing network care providers, you will likely benefit from lower costs, despite having fewer options for receiving care

Preferred Provider Organization (or PPO)

Preferred Provider (PPO) plans offer more flexible coverage to enable people to receive care both in and outside of a plan’s network. With this type of plan, there is no penalty for going out-of-network for covered health care services. However, plans will cover a lower level of the costs for going out-of-network. 

Preferred Provider plans give you the flexibility to get care outside of your plan’s network (see above). There are no penalties for going out-of-network, so if there’s a doctor you really prefer to see – this can be a way to help control your costs. It should be noted though that these plans will cover a smaller portion of cost for out-of-network providers. 

Primary Care Provider (PCP) Having a go-to primary care provider (PCP) – which is a physician that helps you coordinate access to a range of care services – can be a really smart way to control health costs. Not only can they serve as a health guide, but they also can point you in the right direction for additional quality, network care.