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Home > Health Insurance Basics > Health Care Costs > Spend Money Wisely

Spend Money Wisely 

Dollar Sign and Stethoscope

These tips will help you balance good care with wise spending.

 

Tip 1: Know how to use your health plan

  • Use providers in your plan’s network.
  • Get a referral and pre-approval when you need it.
  • Do not go to the emergency room if you don’t have to. If your plan decides that it was not an emergency, you could end up having to pay the full cost. Learn more about emergency care...
  • Do not go to a provider who is not in your HMO's network, unless it is an emergency or you need urgent care and are traveling, or you can get pre-approval from your HMO.
  • Use your plan’s education programs to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Review your plan’s Summary of Benefits, which lists benefits and costs. Also review your plan's Evidence of Coverage, which explains the rules for getting care. You can usually get copies of these from your health plan or employer.

Tip 2: Discuss treatment options and costs with your doctor

  • Use your plan’s services for preventive care. Under health care reform, most plans do not charge a deductible, co-pay, or co-insurance for many preventive care services.
  • Do not put off getting care. If you do have a health problem, the sooner you get care, the better.
  • Do not skip doses of a medicine to make it last longer.
  • Ask how to get urgent care at night or on the weekends.

Tip 3: Do not pay a bill before you understand it

  • Usually, a provider in your HMO or PPO network should bill you only for your deductible, co-pay, or co-insurance. If you get a bill for another cost, call your plan. If the plan says you have to pay and you disagree, you can file a complaint.
  • Do not send a payment if you receive a letter that says, “This is not a bill.” It may look like a bill, but it is not one.

Tip 4: If you buy health insurance, compare costs and benefits

  • Learn about new choices under health care reform.
  • The plan that costs the least may not be right for you, if it does not cover the services you need most. Here’s how to get started.

Tip 5: Stay insured

  • Try to stay insured even if your job ends or your benefits are cut. Learn about COBRA/Cal-COBRA

Tip 6: Ask if your employer offers a flexible spending account

  • This is a short-term savings account. You can set aside pre-tax income and use it to pay for health care during the year. You must spend all the money in your account each year.
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