Skip to main content

How to Save Money On Your Health Insurance

5 minute read

By Jim Greene

Saving money on health insurance can be a tricky proposition that requires you to strike just the right balance. On the one hand, you want to keep your costs affordable, manageable, and predictable. On the other hand, you don’t want to cut too many corners. That could leave you and your family with inadequate coverage that exposes you to risks that aren’t worth taking.

To that end, you want to be smart and safe about saving on health insurance. Here are seven ideas that are worth exploring. They will keep you well protected while also making your coverage more affordable.

Get Help From a Broker

Insurance brokers are independent professionals who work for the end clients who hire them, not for the insurance companies that provide the coverage. Thus, they are incentivized to sell their customers the best, most comprehensive insurance products at the most affordable possible prices.

Brokers excel at giving case-specific advice. For instance, you may be confused about the relative merits of plans that allow you to choose your own physician (PPO plans). Or maybe you need more information about alternatives that appoint a physician from an organizational network for you (HMO plans). Depending on your situation, the relative costs associated with each option can vary significantly. Choosing wisely could save you money which is why it is important to understand the difference between HMO vs PPO plans. A broker can advise you on the most cost-effective option for your particular case. They will help guide you to the plan structure that provides the best coverage for the best price.

Open an HSA

A health savings account (HSA) is a specialized type of tax-sheltered savings account designed for people who have high-deductible insurance plans. Individual account holders can make regular contributions, which many employers will supplement or match as part of an employee’s benefits package. You can then use these funds to cover eligible health expenses that fall under your deductible. You can also use it to pay for overages not reimbursed by your plan. For example, if your plan only covers 80% of dental fees, you could use your HSA to pay back the other 20%.

HSAs allow you to enjoy the savings advantages of carrying a high-deductible plan while shielding you from the risks. Your insurance provider may automatically offer you one if you purchase a high-deductible plan. If not, you can inquire about availability through your preferred financial institution.

Opt for Generic Alternatives

Some plans cover prescription drugs. Here’s a word of advice: brand-name drugs are typically 30 to 50 percent more expensive than their generic counterparts. However, their active ingredients are identical and their formulations are essentially the same. If your plan covers prescription drugs, specify that you will go generic if it will save you some money on your premiums. If you pay out of pocket for your medications, buy generic alternatives to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.

Though not related to health insurance, this works for over-the-counter drugs too. No-name ibuprofen works just as well as Advil, for way less. Just Google “generic replacement for [desired medicine].” Your budget is already thanking you.

Embrace Telemedicine

A growing number of physicians and medical networks are offering telemedicine services for non-emergency issues. Telemedicine is conducted over the internet: you’re connected to a doctor, usually via a video link, where you can explain your symptoms. In many cases, physicians can complete a diagnosis and offer you treatment options within minutes. All without requiring an in-office visit. That means consultation costs are much lower.

Taking advantage of telemedicine services when they are offered can save you a bundle. The concept is still emerging and is expected to really take off in the 2020s. It’s already an option in many locations and it’s certainly something worth looking into.

Pay Up Front and Know What You’re Consenting To

If you know you have to undergo a particular set of tests, a certain operation, or a specific medical procedure, check to see if paying in advance is an option. Patients who pay for services ahead of time often receive automatic discounts. This strategy also shields you from itemized costs for supplementary services and supplies. Those extra fees can get out of control if you wait until afterwards to deal with billing.

Along the same lines, always ask your physician what is and isn’t strictly necessary when they recommend or order tests. Insurance companies usually won’t cover tests they deem medically inessential. That leaves you on the hook to pay for them. If a test isn’t totally necessary and your insurer won’t cover it, consider opting out. Remember that you have the right to say no.

Consider Non-Traditional Coverage Options

An alternative coverage model known as health sharing plans are gaining momentum as an alternative to traditional packages. A typical plan might only cover an individual and his or her dependents. Health sharing plans are jointly owned by a wider pool of participants, who all contribute to each other’s coverage.

Essentially acting like a group health association, health sharing plans can be far less expensive. Some analyses show that they cost as much as 50% less than traditional plans, all while providing the same level of coverage. One caveat: eligibility requirements can be strict, so you’ll likely need to be relatively fit and generally healthy to take part. Certain pre-existing conditions could mean getting denied entry.

Get Healthy

As with all other types of insurance, health insurance costs are calculated using advanced and highly precise mathematical risk assessment models. The more risk you pose, the more you’ll pay for your coverage.

The best way to reduce your risk from an insurer’s perspective is to get healthy. That means getting into a healthy body weight range if you’re overweight, cutting down on alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, joining a gym, or choosing other ways to get active. Your wallet won’t be the only beneficiary, either. Improved health gives you more energy and vitality, often leading to a longer, higher-quality life.

Final Thoughts

These strategies are all designed to help bring down your health insurance costs without sacrificing your level of coverage. There are many other options at your disposal to save on health insurance. You could choose a plan with high deductibles, opt for low-cost care providers, or scale back in other ways. You might want to consider these strategies if you need to find additional savings, but they generally leave you exposed to risks and coverage gaps.

Always shop around carefully before committing to a particular health insurance plan. Keep in mind that the plans available through government-endorsed exchanges vary from state to state. To that end, it’s also well worth it to investigate what’s offered through private markets instead of relying solely on government websites.

Money with Healthcare Stethoscope & CalculatorShutterstock

Jim Greene


Jim Greene is a freelance writer based in the Toronto, Canada area. He has been writing professionally since 2001 and has an extensive professional background in consumer research, personal finance and economics.


Filing For Unemployment Insurance: Everything You Need To Know Insurance

Filing For Unemployment Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

Losing a job is never easy. This is especially true if it caught you by surprise or you received little (or no) severance pay from your former employer. Thankfully, unemployment insurance is designed to help alleviate your immediate financial concerns while you look for another job. The pandemic has caused a massive amount of economic […]

Read More about Filing For Unemployment Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

5 minute read

Adding a Teen Driver to Your Insurance (Without Breaking the Bank) Teen driver with car insurance Auto Insurance

Adding a Teen Driver to Your Insurance (Without Breaking the Bank)

Teenagers learning to drive is a rite of passage. It’s one that parents dread, but their teens can’t wait for. I remember how I couldn’t even fall asleep the night before when my parents told me I could get behind the wheel the next day. It was just that exciting for me! I’m sure I […]

Read More about Adding a Teen Driver to Your Insurance (Without Breaking the Bank)

6 minute read

Auto Insurance: How to Get What Your Car Is Worth When It’s Been Totaled Car accident between two vehicles Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance: How to Get What Your Car Is Worth When It’s Been Totaled

I still remember the accident like it was yesterday. We were packing up to go home after graduation. I was following my friend in his own car. Then out of nowhere, he swirled to the left and back onto his lane. Instead of focusing on what he was trying to avoid, my eyes were fixated […]

Read More about Auto Insurance: How to Get What Your Car Is Worth When It’s Been Totaled

6 minute read

Does it Make Sense to Get Life Insurance For Your Children? Two Parents Playing Outside with Child Life Insurance

Does it Make Sense to Get Life Insurance For Your Children?

Generally speaking, it doesn’t usually make sense to purchase life insurance for your children. While losing a child is devastating for any parent, no family is likely to be reliant on a minor’s income for survival. However, there are some special circumstances where buying life insurance on your child makes sense. At the very least, […]

Read More about Does it Make Sense to Get Life Insurance For Your Children?

5 minute read

Should You Still Buy Life Insurance If You’re Single? Man Sitting in Room of Moving Boxes Insurance

Should You Still Buy Life Insurance If You’re Single?

I’ll be honest with you. I’m still relatively young and I’ve never thought about getting life insurance until recently, despite being the sole breadwinner in the family. Frankly, finances could be tough for my wife and our two young kids if something were to happen to me. Despite those facts, having a policy would still […]

Read More about Should You Still Buy Life Insurance If You’re Single?

5 minute read

Easy Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Premiums Red Toy Car on Folded Cash Auto Insurance

Easy Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Premiums

Money-saving tactics are the subject of hundreds of Google searches these days. So it’s no surprise you might be looking at your car insurance premiums and wondering, “How can I save money here too?” After all, with so many companies advertising give-backs, there might be more than just extra dimes and nickels hiding in your […]

Read More about Easy Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Premiums

6 minute read

See all in Insurance