If you are diagnosed with an ongoing, chronic condition, you need answers to two important questions:
What care will you need to stay healthy?
And, how much will it cost?
Your first concern should be staying healthy. That’s true no matter your health condition—whether it is diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression or something else. Ask your doctor what you need to do to help you manage the condition, and follow his or her recommendations.
A second important concern will be how much you’ll have to pay. By definition, chronic conditions last for a long time, or get better and come back. Every patient is different, but here are a few general guidelines to help you plan.
Look for a Health Plan That Covers Your Needs
What health plan is best if you need a lot of medical services and medications? It may not be the one with the lowest premium. Premiums are the regular payments (often monthly) that you make to keep your coverage.
Plans with low premiums often have high deductibles. That means you need to spend a lot of money before your plan starts paying its share of the costs. You might also have higher co-pays when you visit the doctor or seek other services. If you visit the doctor often, those co-pays can add up.
You may be better off paying a higher premium each month to get a lower deductible, and spend less on doctors’ visits, tests, and medications.
Ask Your Healthcare Providers How to Save Money
Your doctors and other healthcare providers have experience treating your condition. So, they may know ways to save money without putting your health at risk. For example, your doctor may prescribe a cheaper medication, like a generic drug. Or, your pharmacist may help you buy a 3-month supply of your medication at once to save money. You may also ask your providers about funding from organizations that focus on your condition.
Your Action Plan: Managing the Costs of Your Chronic Condition
To keep the costs of your chronic condition under control:
Follow healthy habits, including taking your medications as prescribed.
Make a budget of your yearly costs, and how you plan to pay for them.
Look for a health plan that pays a bigger share of the deductibles and co-pays, even if the premium is higher than other plans.
Consider a flexible spending plan, which lets you set aside pretax money from your paycheck to pay for healthcare.
Ask your providers, such as pharmacists and doctors, how you can stay healthy while saving money.
Try to use providers in your plan’s network. Use resources like our cost lookup to estimate how much out-of-network care might cost.