#1: Get Health Insurance
If you don’t have health coverage through an employer, explore your options right away. Healthcare.gov can help you find plans that fit your needs, and you can find out which exemptions you qualify for there too. If Medicaid or Medicare are potential options, definitely explore those too. Paying out of pocket for prescriptions, treatments and appointments add up fast.
#2: Explore Copay Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies who develop biologic infusion and injection therapies offer copay assistance programs that not only help patients navigate the complexities of healthcare billing but also can reduce some of the personal financial burden for patients. One example is the Fasenra 360 program for patients that suffer from allergic asthma. Patients can often enroll in these programs independently, and often a patient’s care provider can assist in enrollment. Be sure to explore the financial assistance programs offered for your therapy.
#3: Discuss Cash Discount or Payment Plan Options
If you don’t have insurance, talk to your doctor about cash discounts. Some doctors will give you a special rate for paying cash rather than having charges go through insurance. Be honest with your doctor about what you can afford, and see if they’ll work with you to come up with a payment plan.
#4: Consider Financial Investment Plans
If you’re eligible for a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, through your employer, this can be a great way to save money, tax-free, throughout the year to pay your medical out-of-pocket costs. An FSA lets you take a portion of each paycheck and pay into an account, which can then be used to pay for health-related costs. If you can estimate your costs for the year, an FSA is an excellent option. (Think your deductible plus any other recurring out-of-pocket costs as a starting point for consideration.) The only caveat is you must use all of the money within the calendar year, or you lose it.
Another type of financial investment plan is the Health Savings Account, or HSA. If you’re enrolled in a high-deductible plan, you can open an HSA, which allows you to contribute up to $3,500 for an individual or up to $7,000 for a family pre-tax during the course of a year. (Individuals over the age of 55 can contribute an extra $1,000.) This money stays with you until you use it, unlike the FSA.
#5: Budget Wisely
It can be tempting to stick your head in the sand and ignore the financial elephant in the room. But information is power, and the more honest you are about the costs of your chronic illness management, the better you can prepare. Set aside money from each paycheck to cover necessary expenses, even if that means cutting back on semi-luxury items. Nothing is more important than your health.
#6: Find a Financial Counselor
If you’re at a loss for where to start, try talking with a financial counselor. At IVX Health, we offer financial counseling so you aren’t left with unanswered questions and nowhere to find the answers you need. Our team will also make sure you are aware and help you enroll in the aforementioned copay assistance programs for your therapy. A financial counselor can help set you on the path to a healthy body and a healthy budget. It’s one more way we’re treating the whole person and not just the illness.