The Affordable Care Act has made it easier for more Americans to have access to health insurance. However, many of these plans are still very expensive because of the cost of deductibles. There has been a large increase in deductibles in all plans, private or employer-provided. Better access does not mean cheaper.
Because of these costs, Americans need to approach health care like they would grocery shopping. You need to shop for quality and the best price for that quality. The system has some road blocks coming your way that makes this difficult. Some experts advise that the first thing to do to overcome this ‘broken’ system, is to ask questions. There are often alternatives for expensive medication or treatments. There are also generic options for certain medications that cost less. Ask your doctor if there are any of these options available to you.
We have gathered information from different sources and experts and came up with a list of 12 ways that you can save money on health care.
1. Choose the right policy. There are many plans available and you will have to spend some time on this decision. The best plan for you will include your doctors, cover your chronic medications, and fit your pocket as close as possible. Call your doctors to make sure that they are still part of the plan you want to choose.
2. Know what is covered. Before you sign all the papers, you need to make sure what your policy covers. Ask questions, find a consultant, make phone calls, and do research to make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.
3. Research medication options. Do some research on the cost of medications at different pharmacies and other retailers. Generic versions of medications cost less and are just as effective as the original version. Find out where you can find generic versions of your medication.
4. Determine the necessity for procedures. Before agreeing to tests, procedures, and medications, ask your doctor how necessary it is. Sometimes it really isn’t that necessary. Tell your doctor you are paying cash as this will most likely hold off unnecessary tests. When you go for physical therapy or other such consultations, pay for one session and get exercises you can do at home. This is cheaper than paying for 20 sessions of things you could do without the therapist.
5. Find out if there is a discount for cash payments. Before you visit the doctor or agree to tests, find out what it will cost and if they offer cash discounts. It might be cheaper to pay cash instead of using insurance.
6. Facility, facility, facility. Avoid going to the emergency room for any small thing. It is very expensive. For minor issues like coughs, broken fingers, or headaches, rather visit a pharmacy or clinic. They tend to be more cost-effective.
7. Keep records. Ask for copies of all your test results and medical records. This can save you money by taking it with you to consultations. The information can rule out doing certain tests that have been done recently or isn’t needed based on other medical records.
8. Check your medical bills. Check your bills carefully to pick up any errors. Make sure that procedures that are covered by your insurance, is completely covered. Check that you were not charged for tests or procedures you didn’t have.
9. Free screenings. Pharmacies or health fairs often offer free screenings for HIV, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other conditions. If you take these free screenings regularly, there will be no need to pay for them or later tests relating to them.
10. Negotiate. Big procedures can be very expensive. If you need to undergo any expensive treatments or procedures, negotiate with the hospital about your payment options. Ask them if there is a discount for paying cash or whether there is a payment plan you can follow.
11. Out-of-office consultations. Some doctors offer the option of telephone, email, video, or online consultations. These consultations are cheaper than going into the office. This can help you decide whether further consultation or urgent treatment is necessary.
12. Live better. Take preventative action by living a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthily, get enough exercise, take your prescription medication, and avoid risk behaviors. This will save you money in the long run.
These 12 simple things will save you money and help you avoid going bankrupt. Information is your strongest weapon against paying too much.