Lower your healthcare costs with these tips.
It’s no secret that healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent years. Medical prices have soared between rising insurance premiums and a lack of pricing regulation for everything from lab work to prescriptions. Fortunately, there are some ways to cut medical costs before they send you into debt.
Click through to learn how these healthcare hacks can save you thousands in medical expenses.
If your doctor prescribes you a brand-name drug, ask whether it would be okay to use a generic substitute. Generics can be significantly less expensive, and often there’s no difference in the product itself.
2.Stick With In-Network Providers
Your insurer has deals with certain providers that will give you the best price and guarantee that the treatment will be covered. Going out of your network almost always means you’ll have to pay higher costs. Out-of-network providers charged patients on average 300% more than the Medicare rate for many procedures, according to an analysis by America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade association representing the insurance industry.
3.Opt To Pay With a Personal Loan
You don’t want to pay your medical bills or even pay them late. And you also don’t want to rack up high-interest credit card debt by using a card to pay for your medical needs. If you think those are your only options, think again because a personal loan could be a more intelligent move if you can secure a reasonable interest rate.
4.Ask For 90-Day Prescriptions.
Breaking down the monthly cost, you’ll likely pay less for a prescription for a 90-day supply of medicine than you would for a 30-day supply. You’ll only have to pay your copay once instead of three times.
In addition to causing poor health, an inactive lifestyle can dramatically impact your medical bills. Sedentary adults pay $1,437 more per year in healthcare costs than physically active adults, according to the 2016 State of Obesity report.
6.Get a Pet
Not only can it be rewarding to have a pet, but it can provide tangible health benefits, too. The decline in office visits and the reduced frequency of obesity associated with pet ownership can lead to savings of about $86 per year in medical costs, according to a 2015 report from the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation.
7.Check Your Bill for Errors
According to a 2017 study by Medliminal Healthcare Solutions, four out of five medical bills contain at least minor errors, costing Americans an astonishing $68 billion.
Protect yourself from overpaying by carefully reviewing every bill you receive and disputing potential errors. Contact the provider if anything looks off or you don’t understand a charge.
8.Shop Around for Care
Shop around for the best price and quality for elective procedures within your insurance network. You can start by checking Healthcare Bluebook to see what a fair price for the system might be in your geographic area. Then call a few providers and ask for a quote based on your health insurance.
9.Carefully Select a Healthcare Plan
When deciding on a health insurance plan, choosing the correct one upfront can save you thousands in medical expenses throughout the year. Still, more than 90% of workers say they prefer the same benefits every year, and 80% spend less than an hour researching benefit options before selecting, according to a 2016 Aflac poll.
10.Take Advantage of Wellness Programs
Companies are increasingly investing in wellness programs encouraging workers to monitor and improve their health, such as signing up for biometric screenings, health assessments and physical activity programs. To increase employee participation in such programs, a growing number of employers are now offering incentives like money, gift cards, reduced health insurance premiums or contributions to an HSA or FSA, according to a 2015 report by the National Business Group on Health.
11.Use Your HSA
If you have a high-deductible health plan at work, you can fund health savings account for medical expenses. Unlike an FSA (flexible spending account), your HSA money is yours to keep and grows over time, so even if you don’t use it this year, you can tap it for medical expenses in the future. For 2018, you can put up to $3,450 in for an individual and $6,900 in for a family to use for medical expenses.
12.Shop Around for Drugs
Just as medical providers offer different prices, so do drugstores. For example, a recent search on GoodRx for a 30-day supply of Lipitor found prices ranging from $8.25 to more than $48.
Retailers like Walgreens and Costco have prescription savings clubs, which offer various discounts.
13.Avoid the Emergency Room
Unless you have an actual emergency, stay away from the emergency room. Visiting a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic typically costs much less and is often a less frenzied experience.
Please choose carefully, though, because hospitals’ urgent care clinics could charge the same rate as their parent companies. “You’ll pay anywhere from four to 20 times the price by not going to your doctor,” said Adria Gross, CEO of MedWise Insurance Advocacy, which helps people navigate the medical claims system.
14.Negotiate Your Bills
If you’re paying out of pocket for a procedure, contact a hospital’s billing department upfront to see whether there’s any wiggle room in the price. If you’ve already had a system but can’t afford to pay the bill, there might also be an opportunity to negotiate your medical bills or set up a payment plan that makes it more affordable.
15.Download an App
Thanks to telemedical apps like Heal, arranging a house call by your physician might be as easy as pulling out your smartphone.
Although a house call with your doc might cost a little more than a traditional office visit, avoiding those middle-of-the-night ER trips can lead to significant savings. A 2016 study by USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and USC Price School of Public Policy showed that instituting a house call program in a senior population reduced hospitalization rates and medical spending. As a bonus, you don’t have to leave the house when you’re under the weather.