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5 ways you can save money on health insurance

The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for people to save thousands of dollars a year on the cost of insurance, but even low-cost options can be a burden for individuals and families alike with tight monthly budgets. From monthly premiums to co-pays, shelling out hundreds of dollars for medical care and insurance can seem like a waste of your resources when it’s really a long-term investment in your health and the health of those you love. Rest assured that there are some ways to reduce the financial burden thanks to new options under the law. Whether you’re new to the insurance world or you need help cutting your insurance budget even further, here are five great ways to save money on insurance under Obamacare.

1. Apply for Subsidies

Federal subsidies are a new and crucial part of the ACA. Under the new law, families and individuals who earn between one and four times the federal poverty limit will qualify for some type of government assistance. During the initial enrollment period in 2013, millions of people took advantage of this feature to save hundreds of dollars each month on premiums. In fact, some people ended up paying less than $100 per month for individual coverage thanks to subsidies. You can only get a subsidy through the marketplace site, so check out the official website, HealthCare.gov, for information and a step-by-step guide on applying.

2. Review Your Options

Healthcare costs go up every year due to inflation, but some people forget to take the time to evaluate their existing policies for chances to save. One of the best ways to save money under Obamacare is to review your options for 2015. New carriers have been added to both state and federal exchange sites, and new policies come with them. More diverse options lead to lower costs, and you could save money by switching to a new plan or carrier this year.

3. Consider Your Age

Young adults have two options for lower-cost coverage under Obamacare. If you’re under 26, then you may qualify to stay on your parents’ insurance plan as a dependent if you live at home, attend school, or meet other conditions. Staying on your parents’ policy will help you avoid the higher cost of insurance as a single individual. Even if your parents make you pay the difference, your monthly cost for insurance will still be less than that of many young adults.

For people under the age of 30, the government offers a “catastrophic” insurance plan that only covers medical emergencies. If you’re relatively healthy, then you may be able to purchase the catastrophic coverage for significantly lower premiums. Keep in mind that this plan only covers emergencies, but it does qualify as minimum essential coverage under the law.

4. Calculate the Total Cost

Before choosing the cheapest plan based on monthly premium cost, consider your family’s medical needs for the year. If your kids have allergies, for example, then they’ll need to see the family doctor or specialists several times during the year for treatments and checkups. Higher premium plans may be more expensive upfront, but the long-term return will be lower out-of-pocket costs.

5. Maintain Your Health

The best way to save money on health insurance in the long run is to take care of your health. Under Obamacare, you’ll have access to routine wellness checkups to keep you healthy, so take advantage of those to get problems resolved quickly. Likewise, know which doctor to see when. Do you know when to visit the minute clinic instead of the emergency room?

Emergency room costs have skyrocketed in recent years because many people don’t understand how their insurance works in relation to sudden care. Instead of rushing to the ER with a sore throat or sprained ankle, visit your local after-hours clinic if you can’t get in to see your regular doctor. Of course, you should always visit the ER if you feel like you’re having a genuine emergency, but seeking the right care from the right medical professionals could save you thousands of dollars.