This is the fourth installment in Money’s Midyear Financial Checkup. You can read our first installment on how to recalibrate your investments, our second installment how to to negotiate a raise, and our third installment on how to lower your tax bill.
Last year out-of-pocket medical expenses soared 11%, according to TransUnion. And since health care is typically one of the biggest budget busters, there's a good chance you have to reexamine your own spending or rethink how you plan to cover costs.
Compare costs. More than three-quarters of large employers offer tools that let you compare costs for procedures of the doctors and facilities in your health plan, according to Mercer. If your plan doesn't, visit Guroo.com, which lists costs based on national averages.
Use rising costs to your advantage. There's a good chance you may have already met your deductible. In that case the second half of the year is a good time to schedule nonurgent procedures like knee or hip surgery or physical therapy. "It will save you from having to pay your full deductible two-years in a row," says financial adviser and doctor Steve Podnos.
Boost your HSA dosage. A health savings account allows you to set aside up to $3,350 tax-free this year (up to $6,650 for families) to pay for medical bills. The money can be invested tax-free, so anything left over grows, as in an IRA. Yet the average contribution is just over $1,000, well below the limit, according to Aon Hewitt. If you have an HSA, you can raise contributions to meet medical needs even after an illness. "If your kid breaks his arm, you can put the money in tomorrow," says Todd Berkley, who runs AskMrHSA.com, "and have the government pay a quarter of your bill." The catch is the HSA must have been open at the time of the health event.