Keep a Check on the Crazy Cost of Care
Healthcare is confusing and expensive but it doesn’t have to be. By paying attention, and questioning the standard way that healthcare is done, you can save yourself quite a bit. Here are some tips to get you started…Care On!
Shop Doctors & Treatments
Two different doctors within the same health plan can charge dramatically different prices for the exact same office visit or treatment. Call the doctor’s offices and ask what the cash price is for a visit or treatment. You might just be amazed at the differences.
Some doctors “shotgun” tests and treatments, ordering what seems like everything in the book. This is usually bad and expensive medical practice. Do not be afraid to ask the medical provider “Why is this test or treatment needed?” and the follow-up “How is it going to affect my treatment plan and my costs?”
In Network vs. Out
If using insurance, depending on your plan, going outside of the approved provider list can cost you dearly. Many plans will not pay a dime if you venture off of their list and you will be stuck with the bill. On the flip side, with wildly varying prices even within your insurance provider network, it is possible actually pay less out of pocket if you pay cash to go out of network than to deal with all the CoPays and Deductibles of staying in-network.
Use Generic / Mail-Order Meds
A generic drug contains the same key ingredients and has the same safety profile and effectiveness as a brand name prescription yet can cost as much as 85% less. To save even more, consider joining a mail-order pharmacy that sends you a 90-day supply of your regular medicines at a discounted rate. Keep your eyes open for online coupons from the pharmacies and from the drug-makers too.
Find the Freebies
Many sources of healthcare can be free or very inexpensive. Look for local health fairs or read your insurance plan materials. Things such as preventative exams, screening tests such as mammograms, and immunizations are free. Your employer may also offer wellness programs like weight loss, stop-smoking, and stress management.
Read Medical Bills Carefully
Double-charging, charging for tests never performed or medications never given, or simply billing higher prices than is justified is relatively common. Call and question anything your don’t understand. Beware of “balance billing” where the doctor bills for what the insurance company did not pay. This is illegal in some states.
Avoid The ER
If you are not having an emergency, this is not the place for you. Insurance CoPays can be in the hundreds of dollars and the overall bill is generally in the thousands. Everything in there costs way more…from Tylenol to x-rays and beyond. Plus, it can take hours of your time and expose you to some not so pleasant sights and sounds.
Using a telemedicine service can get you seen by a medical provider in your state while saving you time and money. At an average of only $50, this costs much less than a standard office visit. If you need more than the video visit, the healthcare provider can likely direct you to the most appropriate and affordable source of that extra needed care.