Like most things, the cost of Healthcare seems to be constantly on the rise. Even if you have health insurance, you could still be paying outrageous fees out-of-pocket for seemingly simple procedures. While you may not be able to control your health insurance premium rates or the cost of your copay, there are some aspects of healthcare that you can control and you might even be able to save a little money if you’re savvy about it.
- Shop around first. If you don’t get health insurance from your employer, it pays to shop around for the right plan, if you can. Tally up your healthcare costs from the previous year and think about what kind of things you spent the most on – did you see your doctor multiple times that year? Did you use urgent care facilities? Answering these questions will help you choose the plan that will be the most cost effective for your needs.
- Compare prices for medications. You can save a lot of money by buying generic versions of brand-name medications. In fact, most pharmacies automatically give you the generic version unless they are told otherwise. But prices for the same generic and name brand medications can vary a lot from one pharmacy to another, so don’t be afraid to compare prices.
- Don’t pay for unnecessary tests and procedures. Don’t assume that tests and procedures are covered under the cost of your copay. Take responsibility for your own healthcare and ask your doctor if the tests he wants to order are really necessary. If they are, you might also be able to do some price shopping to see if you can get the same services for a lower price at a local clinic.
- Talk to the billing office about cash discounts and payment plans. You might be surprised to find out how easy it is to negotiate with healthcare billing offices. Many offices offer a cash discount, but you’ll have to ask in order to find out. If you can’t pay for services out of pocket, you might also be able to negotiate a payment plan.
- Choose the most cost-effective facility for your problem. If you have a minor problem, don’t waste your money by going to the emergency room. You can receive same-day care at an urgent care facility and, for many insurance plans, all you’ll have to pay is a copay. If your problem isn’t dire, you might also be able to save money by waiting a few days until you can get an appointment with your primary care physician.
- Double check your bills for errors. Medical billers are prone to making mistakes, as is any person. It really pays off to double check your explanation of benefits (EOB) and bills from the insurance company to make sure they are correct.
In addition to making sure that you don’t overpay for healthcare services, you need to be proactive about your own health. Take advantage of free screenings and low-cost vaccinations at your local clinic to help protect your health so you don’t end up needing to pay for extra doctor visits and hospital stays.