Saving Money on Health Expenses

September 2022
By: Michael Botta, PhD, co-founder of Sesame

How to save money on health care expenses

It seems like all of our essentials cost a little more these days. Many people are struggling to pay their bills and buy the groceries, let alone take care of their health. Too many Americans are either uninsured or are skipping out on medical care due to high out-of-pocket costs. This can have disastrous effects on the average person, as diseases go undiagnosed, conditions go untreated, and injuries go unhealed.

To help consumers save money on their health insurance and medical expenses, We spoke with our own Michael Botta, health economist and former White House advisor, to help consumers better navigate the health system and find ways to save money on their medical expenses.

1) Try paying cash for doctor's appointments if your deductible is high.
Americans, even insured Americans, have felt the pain of increased premiums and insurance deductibles. Millions continue to go without insurance or choose not to use their insurance for routine care because deductibles are so high. It's important to remember that in-network rates aren't always good! Often, cash pricing for services can be negotiated at substantially lower rates than even what insurers have arranged.

2) Use an HSA or FSA to save on unpredictable health expenses.
Talk to your employer about an HSA or FSA, which you can fund with pretax dollars from your paycheck. When unpredictable expenses come up (often things like urgent care or hospital stays), you can apply money from your HSA or FSA toward any medical bill. If your employer doesn't offer one, create one on your own or talk to your employer about sponsoring one for employees. Companies like HSA Bank and Health Savings Administrators offer individually-funded HSAs, and you can set up a regular contribution from your paycheck.

3) Shop Around for Your Doctor (and your Prescriptions).
You would be shocked at how much prices for health services can vary from doctor to doctor or pharmacy to pharmacy. If you pay for any of your own care - whether out of pocket or via an insurance deductible, you can save much more than you think by comparing pricing (which you can do on

4) Save the ER for Emergencies.
Emergency rooms play a critical role for health care, and for any emergency, you should always call 911 and/or go to the ER. However, many times the ER is still top of mind as the best place to go for care (even when it's not an emergency) -- but it doesn't need to be. Consider urgent care in non-emergency instances to keep costs lower -- many local urgent care facilities are open 24 hours, and urgent care telehealth is available any time for diagnosis and recommendations on how to follow up.

Your health and the quality of your health care are important. At Sesame, we believe that EVERYONE deserves the right to the highest quality care without the expensive price tag that comes along with it. You shouldn’t have to stress about the cost of your medical expenses – you should only focus on getting better. Use the tips above to cut unnecessary health care costs and get the most out of your care.

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Medical disclaimer

Sesame content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern, it is critical to seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions. If you are facing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.