Healthcare once again dominated the political discourse during the 2020 election, and we’re not talking just about COVID-19. Spiraling out of control health care costs continue to be one of the major issues facing a vast majority of Americans. Although much of the focus has been on healthcare providers controlling costs, more attention should be paid to the ways healthcare consumers can lower their monthly premiums.

Let’s look a six health insurance tricks that can save you thousands.

#1 Shop Around for the Best Deal

When you buy a car, do you settle for the first offer made your way? Of course not, because there are much better deals to be found elsewhere. Treating purchasing health insurance like you treat buying a car. Nurse and patient rights supporter, Gail Trauco, recommends knowing the differences of each plan under consideration. “You must decide if you would like the option to choose your physician (which you need a PPO to do) or if you are comfortable with an HMO, where the physician is on staff at the health maintenance organization.”

#2 Increase the Deductible

If you have received a clean bill of health, then the time might be right to increase the deductible on your health insurance policy. Yes, you run the risk of paying more out of pocket for emergency care, but as Kelsey Allan from TermLife2Go suggests, “If you are relatively healthy and don’t anticipate lots of doctor visits in a year, you can increase your deductible in exchange for a lower premium. That can save a lot of money.” Raising your deductible lowers your monthly health insurance premium.

#3 Where You Get Care Matters

Going to the ER every time you get hurt can drain your healthcare budget within a short period. Visiting the nearest emergency room should be a healthcare option of last resort. Doctor visits cost much less than the care that you receive at a hospital. You should also research different facilities to compare the cost of services, even if that means you have to travel a little farther to receive health care.

#4 Save Money with a Wellness Incentive

“Some companies will offer a lower premium to employees who participate in wellness challenges or check off certain tasks for preventative health,” says Allan, “You might get free coverage just by getting in a certain number of steps, for example.” Many companies offer free gym memberships and yoga instructional classes to qualify employees for wellness incentives.

#5 Think Outside the Health Insurance Box

With numerous health insurance options, you should not have tunnel vision when searching for the right policy. Karen Frost, who is the Vice President of Health Strategy and Solutions at Alight Solutions stated in an interview that “Many new models being introduced in the market are targeted toward improving patient care (ACOs, Integrated Health models like Geisinger or Kaiser, Centers of Expertise). If your doctors are in the network, it’s an easy choice that could save money both in premiums and as you use care.”

#6 Dispute Pricing Errors

Nearly eight out of every 10 medical bills have some type of error. This means your health care provider might have charge you more than you should have paid for a healthcare service. Ask for the full statement for each bill, which means getting an itemized list of expenses. A website called Co-Patient offers a tool that helps patients detect and fix medical bill errors.

One bonus trick: review where you stand with your health insurance policy at the end of every year. Rolling over the same health insurance coverage from year to year not only might not make financial sense; it also might not meet your changing healthcare needs.

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