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Gain Control of Your Health Care Costs

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Ready to put health care costs on the road to recovery? Does just thinking about health care costs give you a headache? We feel your pain! But don’t worry. We have a six-step, cost-management plan that could have you feeling better in no time.

Step 1: Know what's covered.

Get a better handle on what your health plan does and doesn’t cover. Don’t you hate it when you think something’s covered by your insurance and you’re hit with a cost you didn’t expect?

It’s important to be an educated consumer. First, understand what the different terminology means in general: Here’s a handy overview at NerdWallet.

Then, understand what is and isn’t covered by your insurance. Some good ways to find out: visit your insurance provider’s website, contact your employer’s benefits/HR department or call your insurance company.

Talking to someone can be very helpful. If you do, take names and take notes. Then, if you have questions or a dispute down the road you’ll have the information you need to clear things up.

Step 2: Pay attention to your bills.

Doctors’ offices and labs can make mistakes so review charges carefully and don’t be shy about calling if you have questions. If your insurance rejects a claim, call customer service to learn why. You might find there’s a way to resolve the issue.

Step 3: Compare costs.

Need expensive medication, a test or surgery? Call around and compare what different pharmacies and facilities charge. Here’s what NPR has to say on the subject—but know many insurance plans only cover in-network provider costs, which means you might not have a lot of flexibility.

Having a rough idea of what a big medical expense will cost—like a baby, an MRI or an operation—can help you get your finances in order ahead of time.

Step 4: Explore health savings accounts.

Find out if it makes sense to sign up for a Flex Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA). These are tools that let you use pre-tax dollars to pay for certain out-of-pocket health-related costs. Each has limitations and rules and each has advantages and disadvantages.

Don’t just assume these accounts are a good fit for you: talk with your benefits/HR department and your accountant.

Step 5: Join your company wellness program.

Does your employer have onsite workout space? Offer you incentives or rewards for exercising and eating right? Take advantage of whatever they’ve got! You’ll feel better and your health-related costs will probably drop too.

Step 6: Make your health a priority.

Sure, sure, it can feel selfish. But guess what? If you don’t put your health first you’ll be exhausted, more likely to get sick and less able to handle all the things your busy life requires of you. So, eat healthier, exercise every day (even walking helps), connect with people you care about and get more shuteye.

Better health and lower health care costs? You’ve got it covered and Summit’s here to help.

Smart money tips brought to you by Red SHOES, Summit’s exclusive financial wellness program.

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