7 Cost-Saving Health Tips for Men
Health care can be expensive, especially when you’re trying to take care of your personal finances. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on your health care and reduce monthly spending and medical debt without cutting the quality of your care. In honor of Men’s Health Month in June, MoneyGeek offers strategies to reduce health care costs for men. Some of these tips work equally as well for women, who have their own health month in May.
1. Consider Setting Up a Health Savings Account
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If you have an employer or are self-employed, you may want to consider using a health savings account, usually known as an HSA.
An HSA is a savings account that helps people with high deductible health plans save money on out-of-pocket medical expenses such as copays to doctors' offices, vision and dental care and prescriptions.
Here's how a health savings account works: You put money into your health savings account, and the money that goes into that account won't be taxed. Any interest that you accrue in the HSA is also going to grow tax-free. The main catch is that the money needs to be spent on health care, but that's not much of a catch — everybody, at one point or another, has health costs.
There are some essential points to be aware of when opening a health savings account. Some HSAs have fees attached to them for opening, closing or maintaining the account. Generally, these accounts work particularly well if you have regular health care expenses and a health insurance plan with a high deductible.
2. Look Into Starting a Flexible Spending Account
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You can open a flexible spending account if you have an employer, but they aren’t available to self-employed people. A flexible spending account, known commonly as an FSA, allows people to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. If you have copays, prescription drugs and so on, that can come out of your flexible savings account.
You need to be careful that you don’t put too much into the FSA. What you put in, you need to use by the year’s end, though there are generally grace periods and loopholes to let you carry some money over into the next year.
It’s worth discussing the pros and cons with your employer’s human resources team. Using an FSA will reduce your taxable income, saving you money on taxes, and depending on your health plan, your employer might contribute some money to the flexible spending account, too.
3. Stay In Your Health Insurance’s Network
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Health insurance would protect you from financial devastation down the road if you were to come down with a disease or get into a serious accident that requires a hospital stay.
You can optimize your health insurance benefits by remaining in-network for all of your health care needs rather than going out-of-network.
If you have an HMO, you have to stay within your network when you see a doctor or specialist unless you want to shoulder all the costs, whereas, with a PPO, you may be covered for an out-of-network health care provider. It can be costly to pay out-of-network costs. You may have to pay double the costs that you would have if you had stayed in-network.
Your insurance policy's website should tell you whether a doctor or specialist you want to see is in your network.
4. Use a Pharmacy Savings Card
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These cards can save a patient as much as 80% off a medication's retail price. They can be a financial lifesaver if you don't have health insurance. Still, even if you do, if what you're paying for medicine is causing a financial hit, it can't hurt to go to the websites of a pharmacy savings card and see if you can get a discount.
If you find a discount, you should compare the pharmacy savings card's discount to some of the other pharmacy savings card discounts. One pharmacy savings card might have a better discount than another.
5. Take Good Notes
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Keep your receipts or write down what you’re paying for health care. The IRS will let you deduct your total qualified unreimbursed medical care expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income as long as you use the IRS Schedule A to itemize your deductions.
Unreimbursed expenses for medical care would include expenses you'd expect, like the cost of surgery, but also some things you might not expect, like the purchase of a hearing aid, contact lenses or therapy sessions. You can even deduct the cost of a bus or Uber ride to your doctor or other health care appointment. Make sure you jot down those costs to take advantage of the medical expense deduction.
6. Get an Annual Physical
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Generally, it seems like a good idea to start getting an annual physical when you hit 30, according to a recommendation from Mount Sinai Medical Center. When you're in your 20s, having a physical every two or three years is a good rule of thumb if you don't have any medical conditions that require more frequent visits. By age 50, you absolutely should be doing an annual physical.
You may have to pay a copay for an annual physical visit, but some insurance plans do not have a copay for wellness exams. You may also end up with expenses if your care provider prescribes medicine for high blood pressure or another chronic health issue.
Most importantly, an annual physical can find problems before they become serious problems. Would you rather pay several bucks a month for some medication to keep you healthy or wait until you pass out one day and wind up waking up in a hospital and being handed a $30,000 bill?
7. Take Care of Yourself
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The best way to save money on your health care costs is to avoid getting sick in the first place.
You know what you need to do to take care of yourself. Are you sleeping seven or eight hours? Are you eating right most of the time and getting at least a moderate amount of exercise? Are you going to your annual physical, taking your medicine daily and listening to your doctor? There are affordable ways to ensure you’re taking care of your wellness. You don’t have to spend a fortune to do so.
Taking care of your health has a lot of similarities to money management. If you do the smart things that all experts tell you to do, like save money and invest in retirement, you'll see your financial health improve over the years. If you eat well, engage in moderate exercise, listen to your doctor and stay engaged in your health, you'll probably have a far better quality of life and lower health insurance premiums than you otherwise would.
About the Author
Geoff Williams is a personal finance freelance journalist living in Loveland, Ohio, and is a regular contributor to MoneyGeek. Thanks to his annual physical, he has discovered the joys of buying expensive CPAP equipment for his sleep apnea and medication for high blood pressure over the years. Still, he figures it's money well spent.
- Internal Revenue Service. “Publication 502 (2020), Medical and Dental Expenses.” Accessed April 22, 2021.
- Mount Sinai Medical Center. “How often should you get a check-up?” Accessed April 22, 2021.