How to prepare for healthcare expenses now

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Three Strategies to Prepare for Health Care Expenses Now

Health care expenses can really hit home hard. While health insurance is vital to help keep medical costs down, many people expect to only use their insurance coverage for routine doctor visits. But life happens, sometimes bringing large medical bills to your front door:

  • Your son breaks a collarbone playing football. Sports injuries resulted in over 2.4 million emergency hospital visits in 2020.1
  • A member of your family is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 34 million — just over 1 in 10 — Americans have diabetes, and approximately 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes.2
  • You slip and fall while exiting your house. In 2017, accidental falls were the leading cause of ER injuries for almost every age group. 3

Medical bills are the largest single cause of bankruptcy, especially when uninsured or inadequately insured, and represent 66.5% of all personal bankruptcies4. These bankruptcy situations often involve unexpectedly large expenses such as hospital stays, which can result from accidents or a lifelong chronic condition.

In addition to having quality health insurance, what can you do to prevent such medical bills from piling up and posing a threat to your financial future? Try these three approaches:

1. Practice Preventive Care

Regular preventive care and a healthier lifestyle are some of the most effective ways to control costs. A 2020 study5 found that lifestyle choices accounted for more than $730 billion in annual U.S. health care spending, with the leading risk factors including high body-mass index, high blood pressure and dietary risks. Preventive care can catch the early warning risk factors and help you avoid costly spending and poor chronic health. Health care reform required all medical plans to cover eligible, in-network preventive care at 100%, so there’s no reason not to practice prevention for your peace of mind.

How to Practice Preventive Care

  • Doctors agree that an annual physical is one of your best assets for monitoring your health.
  • If you’re covered on one of GuideStone’s health plans, plan your family’s preventive care using the Preventive Care Schedule.
  • Make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce your risk of health issues.
2. Allocate Health Care Dollars and Set Aside

If you have access to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a Health Savings Account (HSA), or an employer-sponsored Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), it may save you cash to use them. FSAs and HSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses throughout the year, and an HRA is an employer-provided, employer-funded medical reimbursement plan.

How to Save with an FSA

An FSA can be a handy way to save for medical expenses. Each year, you determine the amount of pre-tax dollars you want to set aside for your family’s medical needs. Generally, the total amount is available from day one — it doesn’t have to accrue. FSAs must be set up through an employer, even though they are employee-funded. Additionally, they may only be used to reimburse certain eligible expenses.

3. Switch to New Generic Drugs

Each year, some prescription drug patents expire. This means that these drugs are now eligible to be manufactured as ‘generics’ with the same active ingredients and provide the same medical benefit as their brand-name counterparts. More than 90 drugs6 were approved for generic production in 2021 alone. By switching to a generic version, you could save on copays and drug costs — generics typically cost 80% to 85% less. Save even more by signing up for mail order service through Express Scripts® with your GuideStone plan. Consult with your doctor to see if switching to a generic is right for you.

Though we can’t control what tomorrow may bring, taking these steps can set you up for health care savings and wise stewardship of both your health and finances.

For more information, contact us at Insurance@GuideStone.org or 1-844-INS-GUIDE (1-844-467-4843), Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT.

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