Healthcare costs in America keep rising every year. Most Americans are only one serious illness away from bankruptcy or financial ruin. It will take years before these people can get back on their feet if at all.
But there are things that are within your control. By controlling what you can, and taking a proactive role in your healthcare, you will be able to save money and get good value.
Here are some steps you can take to save money on your healthcare.
Choose The Right Plan For You
Whether you buy health insurance through your employer or you buy it on your own, choose an insurance policy with the proper deductible and coverage that works for you.
If you rarely use health insurance and don’t have any chronic health problems, you may be fine with a high deductible policy (also called High Deductible Health Plan or HDHP). Because high deductible plans have deductibles starting at $2750, you will need liquid savings to cover the deductible and other expenses. You can set up a Health Savings Account (HSA) account if you have an HDHP plan.
If you anticipate immediate expenses such as surgery or childbirth, check with your HDHP provider and your doctor, calculate your expenses and choose a plan with the right deductible.
Focus on Preventive care
Visit a doctor at least annually to get a regular check-up. Prevention is way cheaper than treating a disease. Preventive care can help catch problems early and treat them before they become more serious. Many employers will contribute $300-$600 a year to your HSA if you complete an annual physical exam.
Your insurance company negotiates discounted rates with in-network providers. Naturally, you will get lower if you go to an in-service provider. Going to an out of network provider usually means paying much higher, sometimes 2-3 times higher. If you go to an out of network provider, your insurance will only a small portion of the costs or none at all, and you will be responsible for the difference.
Check Bills For Errors
Always check your bills to ensure that you are only charged for the services provided. Call your provider if you have any questions. It is not uncommon to find coding errors that cost you hundreds of dollars.
If you are dealing with high medical bills, consider engaging a medical billing advocate to help you navigate the medical bills. These advocates may charge an hourly rate or charge you a percent of the savings they bring. Some employers offer this service free as part of their employees’ health benefits.
Use Free Health Screenings
Local pharmacies sometimes offer free screening for blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Your community may also offer health fairs where companies may offer free screenings. Use these free screenings to save money and stay on top of your health.
Comparison Shop For Medications
Use websites such as goodrx.com to comparison shop prescription drug prices. Walmart offers $4 for a 30-day prescription of generic drugs, which may be lower than your insurance copay.
Negotiate Medical Bills
If you call your provider and offer to pay immediately over the phone, you may get a 10 to 20% reduction in your bill if you just ask. Being polite goes a long way. If you call late in the year when hospitals and doctors are trying to close their books, you may be able to negotiate a discount on your bill.
Avoid ER Visits When Possible
If you have a serious medical problem that needs immediate medical attention such as a heart attack, or severe pain, you should go to the ER.
On the other hand, if you have a minor condition such as flu, fever, minor cuts, etc, you may be able to go to an urgent care center. It is not only cheaper but also quicker in most cases. Nearly all procedures at the urgent care centers are covered by insurance, and the average bill is around $150.