Health & Wellness – Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:48:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 How to Correct Your Vision for Less http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-correct-your-vision-for-less/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-correct-your-vision-for-less/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:00:36 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7535 As other healthcare costs continue to rise, so do the costs for dental, hearing, and vision care. Regardless, it is just as important to maintain your health in these areas as it is your total overall health. The problem is that some people will put off going to their eye doctor, for example, to save […]

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As other healthcare costs continue to rise, so do the costs for dental, hearing, and vision care. Regardless, it is just as important to maintain your health in these areas as it is your total overall health.

The problem is that some people will put off going to their eye doctor, for example, to save a few bucks. But if there’s a problem, the longer you wait to see a doctor the longer the problem goes unchecked.

If the problem is a severe one, waiting could not only backfire and cost you more money but it could cost your vision. Rather than risking your eye health, try some other ways to correct your vision for less.

1. Compare Prices

When you have access to several different vision centers you could take your eyewear prescription and get it filled somewhere else if the prices are better. Compare prices from more than one vision center or discount store, such as Walmart.

But you don’t have to stop there to correct your vision for less. You could look for online eyewear stores to order contacts from and save money too.

2. Reuse Your Frames

Vision changes don’t usually happen overnight. It can take several years for a whole degree change in your prescription. You can use that to your advantage to correct your vision for less.

One way to get more out of your vision correction and save money too is by reusing your old glasses frames. Ask your vision care specialist if your current eyeglass frames could be fitted with new lenses. It’s possible you could save a couple of hundred dollars.

Of course, if they are damaged in any way you may not be able to cash in on this savings.

3. Take Advantage of BOGO’s

There are companies that offer a buy one pair of glasses get one half off sale occasionally. If your eye doctor’s office offers this type of special, you may be able to pair up with another family member and save.

Again, don’t forget about discount stores and online retailers who may have as good or better deals.

4. Choose Cheaper Frames

Some optometrists have cheaper frames that they do not set out on display. You may not see them or even know about them unless you ask.

Why don’t they put them out and let you know they are available? Obviously it’s because they will make more money off you if they don’t. You will be forced to buy the pricier frames if you are unaware that economy frames are available.

I generally wear my contacts throughout the day. As a result, I was having a hard time justifying spending over $500 for a pair of glasses I only wear a short time in the evening most of the time. That’s when the sales lady brought out the economy frames.

What was my savings? I ended up spending only a little over $100 for the glasses resulting in a savings of nearly $400.

5.  Ask About Rebates

But if you prefer contacts over glasses you can still save money on contacts too. Try ordering from a company that offers rebates.

You may be asked to fill out a couple of forms and add a package label before mailing off your rebate request, but it could be worth it. As an example, when I order my contacts I often get back between $50 and $100 in a rebate.

On drawback is that to maximize the refund I have to buy a whole year’s worth of contacts at once. But to get the rebate it’s worth it.

What other methods have you used to correct your vision for less?

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Is a Fitbit Worth the Cost? http://yourpfpro.com/fitbit-worth-cost/ http://yourpfpro.com/fitbit-worth-cost/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:00:19 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7294 I got a Fitbit a few days ago. My husband bought it for me because he loved his so much he decided I should have one too. He has had one for a couple of months now, and I believe our daughter is currently on her second one. The two of them seem to love […]

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Fitbit worth the costI got a Fitbit a few days ago. My husband bought it for me because he loved his so much he decided I should have one too.

He has had one for a couple of months now, and I believe our daughter is currently on her second one. The two of them seem to love using their Fitbits to track their heartrates, sleep cycles, number of steps each day, and more. They even compete to see who gets more steps by the end of every day.

Since I have only had mine a few days I haven’t even had a chance to explore all of the features yet. But it has me wondering, is a Fitbit worth the cost?

1. Accuracy

For a Fitbit to be worth the cost it must first be accurate. Otherwise, you may have shelled out anywhere from $50 to over $250 for digital piece of junk.

Of course, it isn’t that I have anything against a Fitbit. That would be a bit hypocritical since I am wearing one at this precise moment (by the way, I got 7,049 steps in today). But the accuracy needs to be a whole lot better than the pedometers I used to use in my youth.

Some studies show that not only does a higher price not guarantee accuracy, but neither does the device itself. In fact, the article continues on to tell us that smartphones have a smaller margin of error than a Fitbit. Surprisingly, pedometers were better yet.

2. Convenience

Convenience is a key factor in determining whether or not a Fitbit is worth the cost. For example, the problem I had with pedometers in the past involved both accuracy, as I stated above, and convenience.

When it comes to convenience, pedometers fall short. Most clip to your waistband which isn’t the handiest when you are exercising. As a result, when you wanted to see the numbers on your pedometer you had to either unclip it, or pull the entire waistband of your pants away from your body.

If you are using a smartphone to track your steps they are not going to be any more convenient to carry than a pedometer is to wear. Most people either carry them in their hand or wear them on their upper arm in a special sleeve designed to hold a smartphone.

A Fitbit is by far the most convenient. Many people who wear them tend to forget they are even on after a while. As my husband exercises with his personal trainer, for instance, he keeps his on the whole time and loves it.

3. Features

Features are another issue that may have influence as you try to decide if a Fitbit is worth the cost. To truly be able to compare features to other devices may not be possible, though, because they don’t do the same things.

A simple pedometer will usually count steps and may tell you how far you have walked or how many calories you burned. Your phone may tell you a little more, depending on the app you use. But neither of them do what a Fitbit will do.

Wearing a Fitbit allows you to know how long you sleep each night. It will also tell you how long you were awake and what your heartrate was.

You can track your resting heart rate as well as what it is when you are exercising. My own Fitbit will allow me to set reminders to get up and move.

It will also allow me to track my water consumption and what I eat each day. Additionally, I can set it to vibrate when I get a phone call if I want to. I can even make money while I am exercising and wearing it if I chose to.

4. Cost

Purchasing a smartphone can be anywhere from zero to several hundred dollars depending on your choice of phone plans. Obviously a phone has many more features than simply tracking your steps, though.

A pedometer falls on the other end of the scale as being the cheapest alternative. But although they run from less than $10 to around $50 they also lack many other features.

The cost of a Fitbit is, I’ll admit, much more than a simple pedometer. However, I find I am already excited about using the other features to my advantage as I work to get back into shape.

If you are still wondering, is a Fitbit worth the cost, you should compare cost, features, convenience, and accuracy before making your decision.

Do you think the features of a Fitbit make it worth the cost?

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Beat the Average: Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions http://yourpfpro.com/define-your-why/ http://yourpfpro.com/define-your-why/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:31:38 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=6919 Happy 2017, readers! It might sound crazy, but I’m looking forward to 2017. I’m entering a new decade of my life, which is always interesting, and there are a lot of necessary changes coming up professionally. Whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen, but whether you like it or not: 2017 is here! […]

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Happy 2017, readers! It might sound crazy, but I’m looking forward to 2017. I’m entering a new decade of my life, which is always interesting, and there are a lot of necessary changes coming up professionally. Whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen, but whether you like it or not: 2017 is here!

So what are your New Year’s goals? Did you make any resolutions? I hope your answer is “no!”

Wait, what? Why would a personal finance blogger not want you to make any resolutions? Am I crazy? Maybe, but that’s beside the point. I don’t want you to set any 2017 goals without doing one thing first: defining your why.

Let’s face it: setting goals in the new year just to set them sets you up for failure. Already, a vast majority of people don’t achieve their New Year’s goals, and without a concrete “why”, you’ll never beat these odds. So do you actually want to change something about yourself? Here’s how to beat the average and achieve your New Year’s resolutions.

Why Are You Setting This Goal?

If your goal is to lose weight or increase your savings, why are you doing it? I’m going to get real here: you need to think worse case scenario. Why do you seriously want to lose weight? Do you fear you won’t get to watch your kids grow up? Are you tired of expensive pills when diet and exercise can help you get off the pills? Are you afraid you won’t have enough money to get you through the month and you want to escape that feeling?

Feel something about your goal. Fear is a good motivator, but happiness, accomplishment, and/or pride all work just as well. Want to strive for a promotion by graduating from college? Want to make your spouse proud by saving up for a new vehicle? Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s something you feel and sincerely want to accomplish.

Pick One or Two and Pursue Relentlessly

None of us are Superman or Superwoman. We can’t lose weight, get a new job, find a new partner, buy a new house, start a business, get out of debt, have a 6 months emergency savings fund, and hike the Himalayas all in one year. If you can, stop reading this and be my friend.

But if you’re like 80% of us, you can realistically only accomplish one or two big goals. If you’re trying to shed 30 pounds or save up $5,000 in case of a job loss, it’s really hard to change all of your habits in a few months.

Willpower is a muscle: you have to constantly work it out. You will lose weight, but you have to focus on that one goal almost exclusively. Don’t get stressed out by also thinking you have to accomplish goals B, C, and D too.

If you’ve accomplished Goal A by July, by all means pursue Goal B! But don’t try to pursue all of your resolutions at once: you’ll just get frustrated and more likely to fail in sticking to your resolutions.

Focus On You

Even if you want to accomplish your resolution for someone else (spouse, kids, a doctor, etc.), in the end, you’re doing this for yourself. We all think of peer pressure as something teenagers succumb to, but the truth is, it affects adults too.

If you start losing weight or your startup business begins to gain traction, you might get friends and family who mean to sabotage you. When my husband started losing weight last year, his family (who are all, for the most part, overweight) started giving him a hard time about “wasting away” and needing to “eat more.” When your family is the one peer pressuring you to fail at your resolution, how do you think that’s going to affect you?

That’s why, in the end, it comes down to you. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “no one controls my life but me.” Is your family paying your bills, medical expenses, or paying for your lifestyle? If the answer is “no” then, sorry, they don’t get a say in how you accomplish your goals. Starting a business might not be for everyone, but if it is for you, it’s within your rights to pursue your goal.

It may seem that achieving New Year’s resolutions is impossible, and for many people, it is. But readers of Your PF Pro: we know that living a budgeted, safe, happy and healthy life is important. Being debt-free is important. Having an emergency fund is important. Being able to support yourself and your family is important. Make it a priority, and you’ll beat the average! C

Cheers to a great start to 2017! What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017?

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5 Apps to Help You Stress Less http://yourpfpro.com/5-apps-to-help-you-stress-less/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-apps-to-help-you-stress-less/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:08:57 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6683 It’s summertime and, according to all the songs about summer, the living is supposed to be easy. Aren’t we supposed to be cruising around with our cars, relaxing? I don’t know about you, but unless you’re a kid, summertime just seems like any other time of year, except hotter! Between your full time job (or […]

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It’s summertime and, according to all the songs about summer, the living is supposed to be easy. Aren’t we supposed to be cruising around with our cars, relaxing? I don’t know about you, but unless you’re a kid, summertime just seems like any other time of year, except hotter!

Between your full time job (or several part time jobs), a side hustle if you have one, family life and (hopefully) vacation, you might feel as overwhelmed as I am trying to plan everything. While our phones can be curses, they can also be blessings. Luckily for us, there are 5 apps (on your phone or otherwise) designed to help you stress less and relax during summertime – and year round.

After you’ve put down the productivity apps, consider picking up one or all of these 5 apps to help you relax, get healthy, and take care of yourself.

Need to stress less but don't know how? Pick up your phone - yes, your phone - and download these apps designed to help you stress less and live better.

Omvana

Need to relax and meditate? Omvana is a free app that offers mindfulness, meditation, and personal development audio tracks. Features included guided meditation, meditation lasting from 3 to 60 minutes, a background music mixer to personalize your meditation, and even tracks to just help you sleep.

7 Cups

Do you need someone to vent to, but have exhausted your supply of family and friends? Don’t scoff – sometimes having a neutral ear to vent to is all you need to feel better. 7 Cups offers anxiety and stress relief based on chat therapy, counseling, and mindfulness. The app offers fast, free responses from trained listeners, and you can choose you you talk to. This app is designed to provide an outlet where you don’t feel judged, and you can choose the times you’d like to talk.

TED Talks

Need inspiration? Open up an inspirational TED Talk! There are TED videos for virtually any topic you want, but for stress, the inspirational talks are probably some of the best. You can also watch (or listen to) TED talks on psychology, mindfulness, and stressing less. Want to get started? Here’s a TED playlist on how to manage stress.

HealthTap

HealthTap is basically a doctor on your phone, without the waiting room. If you’ve ever been stressed out wondering about symptoms or a recent diagnosis you or a loved one has received, HealthTap may be an app to help relieve some of your anxiety. You can learn more about health, chat with a doctor about a diagnosis or concerns, and even get doctor-prescribed checklists to help you take charge of your health.

Kill Switch

Okay, Kill Switch is not technically a “stress less” app, but it is pretty helpful. Kill Switch removes all traces of your ex from your Facebook profile. Basically, in anything your ex is tagged in, including pictures, status updates, comments, Kill Switch will remove all of this. No more being reminded of your ex when you log in to Facebook!

With these apps, you have the ability to take control of your stress and anxiety level to hopefully decrease your stress levels. Living might not be “easy”, but these apps should help you slow down, relax and enjoy your summer a little more this year.

Have you ever heard of any of these apps, and do you think you’ll download any of these?

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Is a Health Care Ministry Right For You? Alternate Insurance Options to the ACA http://yourpfpro.com/alternate-insurance-options-to-obamacare/ http://yourpfpro.com/alternate-insurance-options-to-obamacare/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 05:10:29 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6613 In 2015, the government made it mandatory for everyone to have health care insurance or pay a fine to the IRS. For those who don’t have access to (or can’t afford) employer-sponsored health care, the Affordable Care Act (also known as “ObamaCare”) was supposed to offer affordable health care plans without restrictions on pre-existing conditions. […]

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In 2015, the government made it mandatory for everyone to have health care insurance or pay a fine to the IRS. For those who don’t have access to (or can’t afford) employer-sponsored health care, the Affordable Care Act (also known as “ObamaCare”) was supposed to offer affordable health care plans without restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

Note the optimum words: “affordable health care plans.” Unfortunately, as many people are finding out, these plans may be anything but affordable. And if you’re considered as earning too much, yet originally qualified for a subsidized plan, you may find yourself owing thousands of dollars to repay that subsidy.

Enter: health care co-ops or health care sharing ministries. These co-ops (largely religiously-affiliated) aren’t insurance providers, but instead pool money among people who agree to follow certain values (namely, living a healthy lifestyle and, in some cases, participating in healthy programs with a health coach) and share the burden of providing health care to a large group of diverse people.

Sound intriguing? It gets better. In some cases, health care ministries can be a lot cheaper than ACA options – $200 or less if you’re young and single. However, there are some drawbacks to health care co-ops/ministries.

How Health Care Ministries Work

Most information out there about health care cooperatives is from religiously-affiliated (namely, Christian) ministries. They seem to be the most reputable and well-funded, which is why many health care co-ops are also known as ministries.

Basically, health care ministries work as follows:

  • Every member contributes a certain amount monthly (this amount can depend on your age and status, although some ministries just have one set amount per person)
  • Members submit their claims to the ministry
  • The ministry approves or denies the claim
  • Claim is paid either to the member, who then pays the doctor or reimburses him/herself, or is directly paid to the health care provider

If you don’t want (or don’t qualify for) health care ministries, you can still shop for private health insurance as well.

Benefits of Health Care Co-Ops/Ministries

One of the biggest benefits to joining a health care co-op or ministry is affordability. Depending on your age, marital status, dependents, and where you live, your ACA health care plan could vary wildly.

For example, last year when I was single (and one year younger), I investigated what it would cost for me to get a health care plan similar to the one I have through my employer. This meant an extremely good plan, with a low deductible, and affordable. I found a plan for roughly $250 a month with a deductible of $1,500. This price also included dental.

This year? Now I’m married, although my husband would stay on his employer’s plan, and one year older. The lowest deductible I qualified for was $3,250, meaning I would have to pay over $3,000 before insurance paid anything, and for that privilege I would pay $240 a month. This did not include dental.

I don’t know about you, but paying $149 a month with a deductible (or “annual unshared amount”) through Liberty Health Share looks a lot more appealing ($249 if enrolled as a couple, with an AUA of $1,000). However, this does not include dental either.

Really the biggest benefit to these ministries is the affordability. You may also like the community-feel to these ministries, and that they focus heavily on being healthy first. There is a religious component to this sentiment, as most of the ministries are rooted in Christianity. With some of these ministries, you don’t have to be Christian, although there are certain things you absolutely can’t do (smoke, use illegal drugs, etc.)

Drawbacks to Health Care Co-Ops/Ministries

Clearly one of the biggest drawbacks is the solvency of these ministries. Since they’re not insurance providers, it’s difficult to track ministries solvency and viability. After all, if you’re sending in $249 a month for you and your spouse, you probably don’t want the ministry to go bankrupt in 2 years and take all your money with it. While not all ministries pool their funds, some do, and this is a concern.

Another drawback is the Christian aspect. Not everyone is Christian or wants to follow that lifestyle, and in that case ministries might not be an option at all for them. Some ministries require you go to church (although how they track that is unclear), and many will not cover things they don’t agree with (birth control, smoking cessation, drug rehab, etc.)

Finally, some ministries won’t cover pre-existing conditions, or will make you wait for a period of time before your condition is covered. That’s obviously pretty big if you’ve got a pre-existing condition and need medical care immediately.

Are Health Care Ministries Right For You?

There are a lot of considerations when thinking of joining a health care co-op, ministry, or applying for private insurance. However, one thing is certain: health care costs are going up and, as my example shows, quality may be going down as well.

While health care ministries aren’t for everyone, they’re certainly another health care avenue to investigate if you’re looking for affordable health care. While not the solution for all, they may be an option for you.

Have you heard of health care co-ops or ministries before, and do you think you would (or could) use them?

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How to Save Money Handling Seasonal Allergies http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-handle-seasonal-allergies-on-a-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-handle-seasonal-allergies-on-a-budget/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 05:25:10 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6589 It’s officially springtime, and for many places around the US, that means more flowers and trees blooming. While this is beautiful to see, for many of those who suffer from allergies, this is one of the worst times of the year. With blooming trees comes pollen, with better weather comes breezes and kicked up dust, […]

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It’s officially springtime, and for many places around the US, that means more flowers and trees blooming. While this is beautiful to see, for many of those who suffer from allergies, this is one of the worst times of the year. With blooming trees comes pollen, with better weather comes breezes and kicked up dust, and more.

Worst of all, if you don’t address your seasonal allergies right at the beginning, your allergies can turn into something worse, like a sinus infection. Treating sinus infections can be more expensive than tackling your seasonal allergies early, so here are several ways to save money handling seasonal allergies.

Stay Inside!

I know, I know – the weather is beautiful! Why do you want to stay cooped up inside? Don’t get too mad at me: you just need to stay inside in the morning. The morning time is considered high pollinating time, and from sunrise to roughly 11 a.m., you should stay inside to avoid this.

In addition, try to stay inside when it’s very windy outside. The wind will not only kick up pollen, but also dust, which can exacerbate the allergies you already have. Dust and dirt can also get into your mouth and eyes, making the allergy situation worse. If you have to be outside during a windy period, try to cover your hair and face as much as possible until you get inside.

Change Your Clothes and Shower Every Night

As soon as you get home, be sure to change your clothes into something clean. Even better would be to hop in the shower and wash your hair and body, then get into clean clothes. It’s a little bit of a hassle, sure, but by rinsing out all the dust, dirt, and pollen from the day, you won’t continue suffering all night long.

Taking a shower before you go to bed has a double effect of keeping your bed clean as well. Since you sleep in your bed and on your pillowcase, you don’t want to be bringing in dust and pollen where you sleep. By showering before bed, you’ll get all of the allergy-inducing pollen off and climb into a clean bed to get restful sleep.

Compare Over the Counter (OTC) Medications to Prescription

Depending on the recommendation from your doctor, you may be able to use an OTC medication instead of a prescription. However, it really depends on your insurance and your doctor’s recommendation. If your doctor recommends a prescription that, with health insurance, brings the price to an affordable amount, stick with that prescription.

If, however, an OTC or generic drug is more affordable, discuss with your doctor if you could take the OTC or generic version to get the same results. Your ultimate goal is to not suffer from your allergies, but it’s worth asking your doctor for his/her recommendations on other allergy medications.

Create Your Own Saline Rinse

While I’ve never tried it, many people swear by the Neti Pot and making their own saline rinses. WebMD has an excellent example of how to use saline rinses and create your own at home, and saline rinses can certainly help those suffering from allergies.

These saline rinses can help clear sinuses by rinsing away thick or dried mucus as well as an dust or pollen trapped in your nose. Many people also love saline rinses because they provide much-need moisture to a nose that’s likely dry and irritated from sneezing all day.

In all likelihood, if you’re anything like me, your relief from seasonal allergies will come from a combination of everything listed above. Around this time of the year, I stock up on OTC medication, avoid going outside like the plague, and immediately shower when I get home from work. If you have pets, you’ll have to work harder to keep the inside of your house clean: I wash the sheets on my bed twice a week and change pillow cases every other day, just to stay on top of my allergies (and no pets in the bedroom!)

Finally, some people find relief in getting allergy shots although, depending on your insurance, they may or may not be covered. Allergy shots can be expensive, so do some research on the cost and efficacy before signing up for several rounds of shots.

How do you battle seasonal allergies, and do you have any tips for those suffering from seasonal allergies?

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5 Ways to Save Money on Prescription Glasses and Contacts http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-prescription-glasses-contacts/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-prescription-glasses-contacts/#comments Wed, 02 Mar 2016 22:28:44 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6570 No matter how you purchase them, prescription glasses and contacts are a must have for many of us. According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction, whether it’s glasses, contacts, or both! Unfortunately, even if you have a relatively “mild” prescription, glasses (including frames) and contact […]

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No matter how you purchase them, prescription glasses and contacts are a must have for many of us. According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction, whether it’s glasses, contacts, or both!

Unfortunately, even if you have a relatively “mild” prescription, glasses (including frames) and contact costs really add up throughout the year. Combine those costs with eye exams and any other eye issues that may pop up throughout the year, and it’s easy to see why many of us are curious about ways to save money. If you have any type of eye care needs, check out the following 5 ways to save money on prescription glasses and contacts!

1. Check out vision insurance coverage to save money on prescription glasses and contacts

Vision insurance does not come standard in many health insurance plans, but many insurers offer the option for you to buy it as an add on. If you’ve ever thought of buying vision insurance, you’ll want to consider first how much you spend per year on your eye care.

Once you have that estimate, add up how much your vision insurance will cost per month. If your estimated annual eye care expenses are less than what your monthly vision insurance costs will be, it’s cheaper for you to pay out of pocket for your eye care. If, on the other hand, you spend more per year than what insurance would cost you, opt for insurance.

Also, if you want to pursue getting Lasik eye surgery, first check with your vision insurance provider to make they will cover all surgery expenses. If they consider it cosmetic and won’t cover it, it might make more sense to pay out of pocket.

2. Shop big box retailers

Do you always go to a local optometrist for your annual eye exams? Maybe you buy your glasses at the closest eyeglasses chain. If you haven’t shopped around in a while, both for your eye exam and for your provider of prescription glasses or contact lenses, it’s time!

Costco offers eye exams and glasses frames all in one location, and the price is comparable if not better than other chain retailers. Unfortunately, you can’t shop online for glasses frames (unless you just need readers), so you will be limited by what frames your Costco (other other big box retailer) carries.

3. Use your HSA funds

We already know how much Harry likes his HSA, but if you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) plan, you can use this money to pay for your glasses and/or contacts. If your employer contributes money to your HSA, you could pay for your glasses and/or contacts from that and not spend anything yourself!

4. Order online

There are so many ways to save money on your prescription glasses, including Zenni and 39 Dollar Glasses. You can even buy your prescription contact lenses online to save money. All you need is a recent prescription to order, and your glasses or contacts are shipped to you.

Ordering online is a great way to save money and get a bigger selection of affordable frames. While you’re limited to what you can buy at Costco, with online retailers, you can search through dozens of frames all at a price point you can afford.

When ordering online, just make sure you’re using the most recent (within the last year) prescription, as some people’s eyes change as they get older.

5. Use your local optometrist for repairs

Inevitably, your glasses may get damaged. You could drop them, get hit in the face, or any number of insane ways to break or scratch your glasses. Before tossing your glasses, take them to your optometrist and see if they can adjust them to make them work again. There’s no guarantee your damaged glasses can be fixed, especially if a part broke off, but if they’ve just been bent, your optometrist may be able to repair them back into shape.

The same goes for contacts! If your contact rips or is dried out when you open it, visit your optometrist, explain the situation, and she or he may be able to help. If your prescription isn’t too obscure, your optometrist may be able to provide you a pair or two of lenses to keep you going for a little while.

Bonus! Take care of your glasses and contacts with all the free stuff you get!

Yes, free stuff! When you first get glasses, you’re usually given a case (hard is best, but soft is better than nothing) and a cleaning cloth. Use it! With contacts, you’ll typically be given a small bottle of recommended solution and a carrying case.

Take care of your glasses and contacts exactly the way your optometrist tells you to! Use the solution they recommend (for contacts), clean your glasses with the cloth provided regularly, and be gentle on your glasses. When transporting your glasses, keep them in your case. Don’t just throw them in your purse or pocket!

With contacts, try not to sleep with your lenses in even if your optometrist says it’s okay. Make sure to clean them regularly in solution and don’ t rub your eyes (you can scratch or tear your lens!)

Glasses and contacts, especially depending on prescription, can be very expensive. Use the above tips to save money on prescription glasses and contacts, whether it’s reducing your cost or increasing your options for affording your glasses and contacts. Take care of your eyes, because they’re the only ones you’ll (probably) have.

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How to Get Reimbursed for Medical Expenses Abroad http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-get-reimbursed-for-medical-expenses-abroad/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-get-reimbursed-for-medical-expenses-abroad/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:30:51 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6440 It’s finally happening! You’re traveling abroad, either with a loved one or even by yourself. You’ve saved up, got a great deal, a good place to stay, and can’t wait to start eating some delicious food. Then it happens. You’re hiking down the marble stairs, slick with wear and wet shoes because of the rain […]

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It’s finally happening! You’re traveling abroad, either with a loved one or even by yourself. You’ve saved up, got a great deal, a good place to stay, and can’t wait to start eating some delicious food.

Then it happens. You’re hiking down the marble stairs, slick with wear and wet shoes because of the rain outside, walking faster than normal because you have some 12 year old track star breathing down your neck. All of a sudden, you feel a tweak in your knee. You’ve stepped wrong, and now your knee has paid the price.
Sooner than you can say “Tower of Pisa”, your knee is down for the count. Out of commission. You’re hobbling along, hoping that enough alcohol can help you forget that your knee is demanding attention and rest, two things you’d rather give your surroundings, and not your knee.
If this sounds oddly specific, it’s because this has happened to me. In fact, lately, every time I go abroad, something strikes me or a person I’m traveling with. I’ve been under anesthesia in Mexico, been given antibiotics in Europe, and witnessed Eastern European dentistry with a friend.
The biggest problem I’ve experienced during these encounters has not been problems with service, but rather getting reimbursed once I’m back in the US. I’ve been denied more times than I can count (often, for no good reason), I’ve had friends give up trying to get any money back, and I think I’ve found a semi-reasonable solution. Here’s how you can (try to) get reimbursed for medical expenses abroad.
Note: This post is not for ex-pats looking to move abroad and continue using their own health insurance abroad permanently. This is for those who are traveling abroad and find themselves needing medical assistance.

Know Your Plan & Ask Ahead of Time

First, although no one plans to get sick or injured while traveling abroad, occasionally it happens, and it’s important to know what your plan covers. Call your insurance company ahead of time and see what type of coverage you have, and what the reimbursement policy is.
You’ll want to see if emergency care is covered at hospital emergency rooms as well as urgent care centers and local pharmacies. Some insurers will not cover hospital or emergency stays, or will charge higher out-of-pocket costs if you’re not “in-network.” In order to avoid these types of surprises, you should call ahead and speak to your insurance representative.
In general, if your health insurance plan covers you for emergency situations in the US, it’s likely you’ll be covered for emergencies that occur while you’re in another country. However, definitely call your insurance company ahead of time and don’t rely on my word! 🙂

Keep Copies of Your Records and Important Information

You’ll want to take your insurance card with you when you travel, as it provides the hospital with important information about who you are and the type of coverage you have. If you’re covered out of country, having your insurance card on you will making billing and reimbursement simpler.
As a side note, when traveling abroad, make sure you have a list of medications you’re allergic to, as well as list of any prescription medications you take. If possible, try to take extra medication with you in case your original medication is lost, damaged, or if you’re inexplicably stuck in a foreign country for longer than anticipated.

Consider Travel Insurance

If you’re not confident your insurance plan will cover all potential emergencies, consider purchasing additional travel health insurance. Make sure to choose a plan that covers medical emergencies and associated expenses, like prescribed medications or crutches for your bum knee.

Many travel insurance policies will also come with coverage for lost luggage or a delayed trip, which could also come in handy while traveling abroad.

In many cases, a Health Savings Account or even Flexible Savings Account will reimburse most medical expenses incurred while abroad. However, while Harry and I are both big fans of HSAs, you still need to check with your insurer before assuming anything.

After my knee accident, I tried to have associated medical costs (namely, pain meds and a knee brace) reimbursed through my FSA. For some inexplicable reason, only half of my expenses were reimbursed, and then I lost access to the money because it was the end of the year. Fail-fail on my part. Ever since then, I’ve been extra cautious when traveling.

While you can’t avoid medical emergencies abroad, you can prepare and maximize your ability to be reimbursed for medical expenses abroad.

Have you ever needed medical assistance while abroad, and were you reimbursed?

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5 Websites That Reward You for Being Healthy http://yourpfpro.com/5-websites-that-reward-you-for-being-healthy/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-websites-that-reward-you-for-being-healthy/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:30:13 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6043 Ever since I got a FitBit for my birthday earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed with tracking everything. If you know me, that’s not too surprising, as I’m a Type A organized person as it is. However, the FitBit brought out something new. I wasn’t competing against other people, I was competing against my (admittedly […]

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Ever since I got a FitBit for my birthday earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed with tracking everything. If you know me, that’s not too surprising, as I’m a Type A organized person as it is. However, the FitBit brought out something new. I wasn’t competing against other people, I was competing against my (admittedly physically lazy) self. Suddenly, I had to walk at least 5,000 steps a day, and I almost had a party for myself when I reached 10,000 steps on day 2 with the FitBit. 5 websites healthy rewards

However, I’m also driven by side hustling, so of course I started thinking about how I could make money from this new obsession. No way someone would actually pay me to work out, right? That’s almost too easy. However, it’s not a gimmick: there are companies out there who are willing to reward us for being healthy!

Keep reading to find out which companies are willing to reward us for our healthy habits.

All About That Cash

If all you want to do is earn money from your daily exercise habits, there are two websites you’ll want to check out. One, however, does come with a caveat, so make sure you’re very committed to your goal before you sign up!

Pact is an exercise, health and wellness website that encourages you to make a “pact” with yourself or your friends. You can set your pact for virtually any health goal you may have, including exercise, eating enough veggies, or tracking the food you eat.

Once you set your goal, or pact, you then make a monetary commitment to sticking to it. Yes, this means if you miss your pact goal, you’ll end up owing money to Pact. However, if you make your goal, you earn money every week you achieve your goal. Rewards are based on the number of days you commit and complete your pact. If you meet your goal, you’ll get a reward between $.30 to $5 per week depending on the number of activities you committed to.

Pact does this by using the money from members who have not met their goals and rewarding the members who have met their goals. Obviously, this does not bode well for you if you typically can’t stick to goals. Don’t sign up for Pact unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll stick to your goals – I don’t want you to pay money in order to use this app!

AchieveMint is another website where you track your health and exercise goals and, after accumulating 50,000 points, you’ll be rewarded with a $50 Visa card. Unlike Pact, you’re not making any specific goal, so you won’t be punished for not meeting goals by a certain time. All you do is link up your fitness tracker, or input any healthy activities you have done, and you’re rewarded a certain number of points until you reach 50,000.

AchieveMint makes money from ads by companies promoting healthy living activities, and they do aggregate data to sell to companies tracking health trends. Currently, there is a waiting list to get started with AchieveMint, but of those who are using AchieveMint, it doesn’t seem to take very long to get your 50,000 points to cash in for your $50 gift card!

Discounts and Charity

In addition to getting money just for working out and keeping track of your health goals, you can also sign up for websites that give you discounts on things you already buy, or let you donate your points to charity.

Nexercise is an app on your phone where you track your workouts, daily walks, etc. and are rewarded for your activities in the form of gift cards and automatic discounts to merchants like CVS and Home Depot. You can also save up your points to put toward gift cards to merchants like Sephora and Nordstrom’s.

Higi is similar to Nexercise, except you don’t need to download anything to your phone. Just sync your activity tracker (FitBit, JawBone, Garmin, etc.) to Higi and watch your points roll in! Unlike Nexercise, Higi’s partners are a little more unique – you won’t see rewards to Home Depot with Higi. Instead, you’ll see discounts on BucketFeet shoes, Orgain protein shakes, and Element Bars, to name a few.

One thing I’ve liked about Higi is that I’ve only been using Higi for a few days, and I can already cash in for a few rewards (like those protein shakes). It may not be free money, but it’s worthwhile to get something new for free and try it out!

If you’d prefer to donate your exercise points to charity, you’ll want to sign up for Charity Miles. Signing up it easy – download the Charity Miles app to your phone, then choose your charity and either walk, run or bike. Your selected charity will earn money for every mile you cover. Walks and runners earn up to $.25 a mile, and bikers earn up to $.10 per mile.

You can choose to donate to over 30 charities, including the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Stand Up to Cancer, and many more.

Don’t forget: you can sign up for all of these programs, if you’re so motivated. The best part of these websites and apps is that they’re not mutually exclusive, so go ahead and earn money through Pact while, at the same time, earning money for your favorite charity.

You also don’t have to be a marathon runner to enjoy and be rewarded by these companies. Like I mentioned, I’m not the most active person, but I’ve already earned a few rewards and points for my favorite charity. These websites and apps can help give an extra motivation boost to keep you active and eating healthy and, if you can make some extra money from it, that’s just a bonus!

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Is a Home Gym Cheaper Than a Gym Membership? http://yourpfpro.com/is-a-home-gym-cheaper-than-a-gym-membership/ http://yourpfpro.com/is-a-home-gym-cheaper-than-a-gym-membership/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:02:39 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6013 Unless you’re blessed enough to live somewhere nice year-round, like Harry, chances are you either go to a gym or workout in your home. As much as I heard people talking about working out at home with workout DVDs, I never really thought working out at home was feasible. After all, with all the fun […]

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Unless you’re blessed enough to live somewhere nice year-round, like Harry, chances are you either go to a gym or workout in your home. As much as I heard people talking about working out at home with workout DVDs, I never really thought working out at home was feasible. After all, with all the fun distractions at home, plus general laziness, is it really possible to get a better workout at home than at a gym? At least people in the gym are judging me, so I feel like I have to work out harder.

However,  my fiance recently brought up an interesting question: what if instead of spending the money on a gym (which someone is not using), we spent that money on a home gym?

After doing quite a bit of research, I’ve come up with several pros and cons to building your own home gym. One big pro is that, with a home gym, you can literally work out whenever you want. More importantly, for the 3-4 months out of the year when it is nice to live in Phoenix, we could spend 80% of our time outdoors, like we do now, save money on gym memberships for both of us, and still have weights to use in order to keep in shape.

So will having your own home gym really save you money? While the convenience factor is huge, there are quite a few things to consider when evaluating whether you’ll actually save any money with your own home gym.

The Cost of a Home Gym

In my quest to (maybe) set up a home gym, I’ve discovered setting up a home gym really depends on the amount of space you have. Let’s say you have an entire room (like a guest room that never sees guests) to use as your home gym. In that case, you may have room for a set of weights, an area for stretching/yoga, and maybe even a treadmill or elliptical machine.

Having a bigger room you want to fill would obviously be the most expensive set up. For example, a good treadmill, according to Consumer Reports, will cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 – and many people on body building forums say it could cost you up to $5,000 for a good treadmill.

If you don’t want a treadmill, whether due to bad news or a general aversion, you could go with an elliptical machine instead. Elliptical machines will cost you a little less – anywhere from $900 to $3,600, if you go with Consumer Reports’ recommendations.  However, you’re only going to buy a treadmill or elliptical if you have the room and budget to do so. Not every person will want to buy a $2,000 treadmill, especially if they have other ways to get their heart rate up (either by running outside or using a cardio workout video).

If you don’t want any of the equipment associated with a home gym (or you don’t have the space for it), you’ll likely want some free weights and an area to do stretching, yoga, pilates, etc.  Free weights will be your biggest expense in this category, ranging anywhere from a few dollars (for one set of smaller weights) to $150. You can find discounts on free weights through Craigslist, or yard sales if you’re a particularly savvy bargain hunter.

A good yoga mat won’t cost you very much at all, from $10 and up, depending on if you want a particularly cushy mat or organic mat. Take good care of your mats by washing them carefully when they get smelly (some mats you can throw in the washer, but others you’ll have to soap off with a hand towel and dry either outline on the line or in your bathroom). Personally, I have a cheapo Target mat that I can throw in the washer that’s served me really well – it’s not the most comfortable mat on a hard surface, but I don’t spend more than half an hour on the ground, so it’s okay for me. If you have back problems, splurge on the more expensive mat with more padding.

Finally, consider your entertainment. Listening to music can improve your workout performance, so consider getting a system to play music through your phone, iPod, tablet, etc. Your phone with Pandora or Spotify will work just fine here – and you don’t even need headphones, because in your home gym, you can listen to whatever you want and crank it up. No one to glare at you for your taste in music in your own home!*

You may consider investing in an affordable TV and linking it up to your Netflix/Hulu/other TV service you have. With a TV, if you have a favorite show, you could watch it while working out. Yeah, I know it’s not as nice as vegging out in front of the TV with some popcorn but hey, if you’ve invested in a treadmill or elliptical machine, you better use it!

*Your spouse, children and pets may disagree with your choice of music. Tread carefully.

The Cost of Belonging to a Gym

If you’re one of the 50 million people who belong to a gym, how much you pay will actually depend on a variety of factors, including where you live and what add-ons you pay for. The average monthly cost for a gym membership in the US is $55 a month.

That said, the price of gym memberships can vary dramatically depending on your gym. Planet Fitness, for example, has $10 memberships, but you can pay upwards of $20+ for places like LA Fitness or country club memberships. If you pay extra for any special packages, like access to the pool, spa, or personal trainers, that will obviously increase your membership costs.

There are intangibles associated with gym memberships too, like actually getting to the gym and working out for an acceptable period of time. 67% of Americans with gym memberships never use them, so this is a real concern! You may also want to listen to music (using Spotify, purchasing songs on iTunes, etc.), need headphones, or invest in a solid water bottle. All not very pricey expenses, but fairly crucial to a successful workout experience.

While the price of a home gym (anywhere from $50 for a cheap mat and some resistance bands or lighter free weights, to $1,500 and up for a treadmill, weights, etc.) seems much more expensive than a traditional gym, it’s not quite as clear cut as it may seem. Depending on the gyms in your area, you could pay anywhere from $10 to $50 and up for a monthly gym membership ($120 to $600+). And while you could sell your treadmill and weights if you didn’t want your home gym anymore, have you ever tried to get out of an LA Fitness contract? It’s almost impossible!

The bottom line is: the best gym set up for you is the one you’ll actually use. If a home gym seems appealing, but your treadmill ends up sitting in the corner as a clothes rack, it’s not a good investment. On the other hand, if your gym is $50/month and you decide to cancel your membership and get a $1,500 treadmill, in less than 3 years, you’ve “paid” for your treadmill using the money you didn’t spend on your gym. The “right” amount of money to spend on your fitness depends on your lifestyle and motivation.
How do you fit exercise into your life? Do you belong to a gym, have your own home gym, or workout outdoors, or some combination of the 3?

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Should I Pay A Personal Trainer To Get Me In Shape? http://yourpfpro.com/pay-personal-trainer-get-shape/ http://yourpfpro.com/pay-personal-trainer-get-shape/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:45:05 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5620 I’ve had a gym membership ever since I was 15 years old.  As a high school sophomore, I decided that I’d had enough of being a scrawny little weakling so I made my mom sign me up for the local 24 Hour Fitness.  It wasn’t like I really needed big muscles to run cross country […]

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Should I Pay A Personal Trainer To Get Me In Shape?

I’ve had a gym membership ever since I was 15 years old.  As a high school sophomore, I decided that I’d had enough of being a scrawny little weakling so I made my mom sign me up for the local 24 Hour Fitness.  It wasn’t like I really needed big muscles to run cross country or play volleyball but I did want to be a little more in shape.

I was a pretty financially savvy kid at the time too so I convinced my mom to pre-pay three years in full.  That way, I would get a rate of $99/year for the rest of my life.  Now that’s a hedge against inflation right there if I’ve ever seen one 🙂

What It’s Like Now

Fast forward 10+ years and I still work out in spurts, but to be honest, I would much rather play some beach volleyball or go surfing than sit in a dark and sweaty gym for an hour with a bunch of other dudes.  Add in the fact that I pay so little for my membership, less than $9/month, and it’s pretty much made me take for granted the fact that I have access to a gym.

I’m still pretty good about staying active: I play all sorts of sports, go on hikes, bike around, etc. but I don’t really go to the gym as much as I should.

Lack of Motivation

I enjoy working out but there are A LOT of other things I would rather do.  If I have a workout planned for after work, just about anything can throw me off my game: happy hours, Monday Night Football, etc.  For me, it’s generally a problem of motivation to get to the gym.

I’ve been blessed with good genes (this is a huge part of staying in shape if you ask me) and I eat somewhat healthy, so it’s not hard for me to stay in decent shape.  So whenever I notice that I’m gaining a little weight, or my wife starts calling me ‘fatty’ a little more often than normal, I know it’s time to hit the weights.

(I despise running for the sake of running by the way.)

What Can A Personal Trainer Do?

I actually enjoy the feeling I get after a workout but it’s hard to motivate myself to go.  That’s where a personal trainer can help big-time.  PT’s are great because they motivate you, keep you on a specific schedule and you have to pay for them.  There’s no way you’re going to cut your workout short if you’re paying $50/hr for it.

That’s one of the main reasons why I think so many people use them.  You don’t really need someone to plan your workout for you.  You could do it yourself online in about 5 minutes or just make it up as you go along.

My Workouts Kind Of Suck

I know there are lots of people out there who can go to the gym, hit it hard for an hour straight and then go home.  But I’m not one of those people.  I know that I need to work out and I like the feeling I get after a work out, but it’s just hard for me to do it on my own.

My workouts lack creativity and I’ve even been known to do a few sets of bench press and call it a day.  Most of the time though, I’ll stick to working the chest, bi’s and tri’s and if I’m feeling adventurous maybe even do a few sit-ups.  So like I said, my workouts lack creativity and they’re not all that efficient either.

So how can I make my workouts a little better but at minimal cost?

The Expensive Options

I think personal trainers work great, but they’re pretty expensive.  I figured there had to be better ways to get a great workout but for less, even for people like me who are lazy and lack motivation.  My next stop was the crossfit type classes.  Again though, some of these classes cost as much as my year long membership to 24 Hour Fitness, so that wasn’t going to work.

My Solution: Find A Friend

The best solution I could find was also one of the simplest and most cost-effective: find a friend.  Over the past few months, I’ve been working out with a friend 1 to 2 times a week and it’s been great.  It’s fun to work out with someone you know and it’s also a lot easier to push yourself since you don’t want to seem like a wimp in front of your friend.  There’s no leaving after 20 minutes because you’re tired, that just wouldn’t be very manly.

Since we plan when and where we’re going to work out, it’s also tough for me to cancel on him.  If I do cancel, I need to have a really good excuse.  I rely on him to motivate me on those days I don’t really want to work out and he does the same with me when he doesn’t want to work out.

Solo Workouts Are Still OK

I don’t have as much fun working out by myself but I definitely still do it from time to time.  But here are some strict guidelines that I need to follow:

  • First Thing I Do: I like working out right after work during the weekdays, but on the weekends I have to work out first thing in the morning if I’m going to work out at all.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned on working out after I get some work done or after lunch, but that never happens!  I usually just end up at the beach.
  • Lunch Time Work Out: My company provides some pretty nice workout facilities on site so I try to work out during lunch 1-2 times/week.  It’s also nice because it forces me to bring a lunch (which is healthier/cheaper than going out) and it’s the perfect break in the day.  Work always seems to go by a lot faster when I workout during the middle of it.
  • No Detours: My job isn’t that physically demanding so on certain days I like to workout right after work.  The only problem with this is that if I don’t go straight to the gym, I likely won’t make it at all.  As soon as my butt hits that couch and I start to sink in, there isn’t much chance of me getting up again.  So if I want to work out after work, I always bring my gear with me in the car so I can head straight there.  No detours.

Readers, what do you think about the solution to my ‘working out’ problem?  Do you think it’s ok to stay active by playing sports, hiking and biking?  Or does a good physical fitness regimen require that you go to the gym at least once or twice a week?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Reader Question: Traditional PPO vs HSA Plan http://yourpfpro.com/reader-question-traditional-ppo-vs-hsa-plan/ http://yourpfpro.com/reader-question-traditional-ppo-vs-hsa-plan/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 12:02:45 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4563 Editor’s Note: For those who aren’t familiar with Health Savings Accounts, I’ve written extensively on the topic before, take a look. This question didn’t come to my inbox but instead it came through as a comment on my article about 2014 health care annual enrollment. Calculating which plan is best for you is no easy feat and […]

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Editor’s Note: For those who aren’t familiar with Health Savings Accounts, I’ve written extensively on the topic before, take a look.
Reader Question: Traditional PPO vs HSA PlanThis question didn’t come to my inbox but instead it came through as a comment on my article about 2014 health care annual enrollment. Calculating which plan is best for you is no easy feat and I’m glad Amber posted her comment so I could review the numbers and help her make her decision.

I’m on the fence about HDHP. I PAY $40 a month for my PPO with a $1000 deductible. My HDHP will cost nothing with a $2000 deductible with company contributing $1000. I usually see the doctor 4-5 times a year so I PAY at most $150 for doctors. The catch is in my medication I have some very expensive medicines that I only have to pay $10 with my PPO with a total of $340 last year. If I had a HDHP it would cost $3,500 so I would have to pay my complete deductible plus 10%. So with medication alone that’s $2150- my employer contribution = $1,150. With PPO total I’m paying $480 + 340 = $820. SO with that math I’m saving $330 a year with regular insurance. What do you think? Am I missing something or should I stay with my PPO?

Most employers have realized the benefit of an HSA/HDHP combo by now and offer great incentives to sign up for one. They save money, you save a lot of money, it’s a win-win. And as long as your employer offers a decent HSA plan you almost always come out ahead vs. a traditional plan. The trouble arises when you spend only a couple thousand every year like Amber. Figuring out which plan is right for you can be difficult if you have some expenses but not enough to go way over the deductible. In this case the expenses are somewhat fixed so we can do a couple quick calculations and figure out which plan is best for her.

Most people have annual enrollment around November of every year but since Amber’s fiscal year ends in June she gets to sign up for health care right now.

PPO Plan

Amber’s PPO plan costs $40 a month for a total of $480 a year and has a $1,000 deductible. Amber has a $10 co-pay on her medication and last year she spent $340 on medication co-pays. She also spent about $150 on doctor’s visits. So ignoring the premium for now, Amber spent $490 on healthcare last year using her PPO. Some employers offer an HRA which would let her pay for things like co-pays and co-insurance with after tax dollars but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here.

At the end of the year, Amber has spent $490 in after tax dollars on her healthcare needs. And since that $490 was all co-pays, none of that money counts towards her $1,000 deductible(this is how most plans work but you should always double check these rules).

HSA Plan

Amber’s HSA plan is free and her employer will also contribute $1,000 a month. Her deductible is $2,000 but since she doesn’t have any premiums she can take her premium savings($480) and add it to the employer contribution. That leaves her at risk for $520($2,000 – $1,480). If she pays for her medication without co-pays the cost is $3,500 per year. Once she fills up the $2,000 deductible though, co-insurance kicks in and she only has to contribute 10%. So her cost for the medication is only $2,150 with the HSA.

So as long as Amber contributes $1,150 to her HSA($480 would be free due to reduced premiums) she could pay for everything with pre-tax dollars. That means she’ll be on the hook for $670($2,150 – $1,480) but at a federal tax rate of 25% that $670 is only around $500 in out of pocket cost(we’ll ignore state, FICA & Medicare tax to keep things simple but that would make the cost even less).

And since Amber reached her deductible, her doctor’s visits would be completely free(or possibly 10% co-insurance depending on her plan). For simplicity, we’ll assume that she visits the doctor after the deductible is reached. Otherwise, the math would get way more complex but the end result would be the same.

So PPO Wins by $10 Right?

In Amber’s case it looks like the PPO is the winner by $10 right? Not so fast though. The PPO option still leaves Amber with $1,000 to go before she would hit her deductible. With the HSA option, she has already fully reached her deductible. So if she needed any additional medical treatment it would be at the co-insurance rate with the HSA but she would have to pay in full up until the deductible with the PPO.

I also recommended to Amber that by going with the HSA she could shop around for her medicine and see if she can get it cheaper online or from another source(you boys like Mexico?). A lot of time doctors like to prescribe name brand drugs when generics are readily available. Some doctors(like financial advisors) have huge conflicts of interest when it comes to prescriptions so that’s something you should always be aware of.

HSA by a Hair

I don’t think the HSA option is the clear winner in this case but if it were me, I’d probably go with the HSA over the PPO. Since I pay for all my expenses out of pocket instead of with my HSA dollars, that means I’d be able to invest and withdraw even more money tax free. If I was racking up $2,000 in HSA receipts every year, I’d be able to cash out $40,000 tax free in 20 years if I paid for all my current expenses with after tax dollars. Meanwhile, my money will be invested during that time and I can use the earnings to pay for future medical costs completely tax free. Man I love HSA’s.

If Amber decides to switch from her PPO plan to HSA there will definitely be some growing pains. She might not be able to use the same doctor(s) and in general the HSA is a more do it yourself type approach. But if you want to save money you’re always going to have to do a little extra work.

Readers, which plan would you choose if you were in Amber’s position? Do you now see how the premium savings can come into play and make HSA’s the better option for 9 out of 10 people?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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