Saving money is a popular New Year’s resolution.
If you’re looking for ways to trim your budget in 2023, healthcare is a good place to start.
Health care spending in the US reached $4.1 trillion, or $12,530 per person, in 2020 (the most recent data available), according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
6 ways to save on healthcare in 2023
Here are six ways to save money on healthcare in 2023 so you can keep your body, mind, and wallet healthy in the new year.
- Get health insurance.
- Or review your current health insurance.
- If you have Medicare, review your options during open enrollment.
- Find free and low-cost mental health services.
- Negotiate your medical bills.
- Check your credit report.
1. Get health insurance
Giving up health insurance may seem like an easy way to save money each month. If you’re young and healthy, paying the monthly premiums for a plan you barely use can seem like a waste of money.
But that short-term decision to save money could be costly if you have a catastrophic health event.
Open enrollment for plans in HealthCare.gov — the health insurance marketplace where you can shop and enroll in affordable plans — is available now through January 15.
The Health Insurance Marketplace was created as part of the Affordable Care Act and is for people who cannot get coverage through their employer. This may include part-time employees, freelancers, temporary workers, college students, self-employed people or unemployed and early retirees under 65among others.
Most of the 14.5 million people enrolled in insurance through the public market receive subsidies to help lower their premiums.
This can help you save money on your health insurance coverage in 2023.
Here’s how those subsidies break down:
- If you earn up to 150% of the federal poverty level ($20,385 for an individual and $27,465 for a couple): You can get an ACA plan with no monthly premium.
- If you earn up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($54,360 for an individual and $73,240 for a couple): You may qualify for sliding scale subsidies to lower your premiums.
- If you earn more than 400% of the federal poverty level: You may still qualify for savings in a 2023 Marketplace insurance plan. You will pay no more than 8.5% of your household income for premiums.
Ready to start? Here it is how to register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act of 2023.
2. Or review your current health insurance
Most companies hold open enrollment events at the end of the year. You may be tempted to re-enroll in your current coverage, but exploring all your options is the best way to save money.
Among the most cost-effective options for employers is a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). These plans offer low monthly premiums, but require you to spend more out of pocket before the insurance company begins to pay its share.
Because these plans cost less for the employer, many companies try to incentivize employees to sign up by offering pre-tax contributions to a HSAa savings account that can only be used for health expenses.
High-deductible health plans make sense if you’re trying to save money and you’re in good health. An annual exam and preventive services are always covered by HDHPs due to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Be realistic about your health insurance needs. Yes, your monthly premium will be lower with an HDHP, but you may have a deductible of $3,000 or more.
If you have a chronic condition or ongoing medical problems, it may be cheaper in the long run to pay a higher premium each month for your coverage if the plan has a low deductible.
3. If you have Medicare, review your options during open enrollment
Every year from October 15 to December 7, people who are already enrolled in Medicare have the opportunity to review and make changes to their plans during Open registration.
If you’re happy with your Medicare coverage, you don’t need to do anything.
But reviewing your current health plan, especially with a trained nonprofit counselor, is a good way to make sure you’re not overspending.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Programor SHIP, is a national network of trained volunteers who provide personalized assistance, counseling, and education to Medicare beneficiaries and their families.
Unlike insurance agents, SHIP counselors will never try to sell you anything. Instead, they can help you review your current coverage. If your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan no longer meets your needs, a counselor can help you choose a new plan using the Medicare Plan Finder tool.
They can even see if you qualify for a Medicare Savings Program or other assistance based on your income.
You can find your SHIP using the online site SHIP Regional Locator tool. Or you can call the national network hotline at 1-877-839-2675.
4. Find free and low-cost mental health services
Your health insurance plan may include mental health benefits, but there are many others ways to save on counseling and therapy — whether or not you have insurance.
The NAMI Helpline is a free, nationwide peer support service that provides mental health information, resource referrals, and counseling.
You can contact a counselor at NAMI (short for the National Association for Mental Illness) multiple waysincluding by phone (800-950-6264), text, online chat, and email.
The helpline itself does not offer advice, but it can help connect you with free or low-cost programs in your area.
Another option is employee assistance programs. More companies are offering these programs, which can cover some free counseling sessions in addition to your insurance benefits for mental health care.
Check with your human resources department to see if your organization offers this type of benefit and ask how you can take advantage of it.
5. Negotiate your medical bills
If you are facing an expensive medical bill, you may be able to negotiate it down to a lower price.
You can negotiate medical bills with both the provider and your insurance company. You can do it in different ways.
You may be able to erase a large portion of your bill by calling the doctor or hospital and offering to pay a portion of the total upfront in cash.
Let’s say you get a hospital bill for $1,000. You can call the hospital’s billing department and make them an offer.
“I don’t have $1,000, but I can give you $250 today if we can settle this account. Can you work with me on this? it is a way of approaching negotiations.
Another option is to call your provider and ask them to set up a payment plan. This may not lower your total, but spreading the payments out can soften the blow to your budget. (Just make sure they don’t charge you interest.) Creating a payment plan can also help prevent your medical bill from ending up in collections.
Here is a step by step guide on how to negotiate medical bills to save some money in 2023.
6. Your medical bill could be deleted from your credit report in 2023
During the first half of 2023, medical bills of $500 or less that are in collection will be removed from credit reports.
That’s great news for the millions of Americans with persistent medical debt.
One reason for the change: Medical debt isn’t a good predictor of whether you’ll be able to pay off other types of debt.
You will still owe the entire medical bill, even if it disappears from your credit report after you pay it at $500 or less.
Still, the new rule could really boost your credit score. Having an account that is referred to a collection agency can drop your score by 100 points or more. Removing it from your credit reports could help you qualify for a better car loan or better terms on a mortgage.
That’s something to look forward to in 2023.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Personal Finance Educator and Senior Writer for The Penny Hoarder.