6 Tips On How To Cut Your Medical Costs

It is a very sad reality that rising medical costs are causing more unhealthy lifestyles for many people across America today. In fact, out of pocket medical costs, such as co-pays and health insurance premiums, have increased by 45% over the last five years.

Even though it is tempting to not see a doctor when you ill so that you are not forced to part with your money, that can lead to even more medical costs down the road. Here are 6 tips to help you cut your medical costs:

1. Study the handbook

Every health insurance plan has a handbook of policies and procedures. Study this book. Understand how the insurance company will pay for a doctor's visit or for a surgery. Follow their guidelines so that you are guaranteed to receive coverage for which you are paying a monthly premium.

2. Choose a GP

Choosing your own personal General Practitioner can save you money down the road. Instead of jumping from one doctor to another, your regular doctor will be able to get to know you more personally and will be able to recommend better medical aids and medications for your specific needs.

3. The ER is only for Emergencies

It's not surprising that receiving medical attention in the emergency room is one of the most expensive options for medical care. Emergencies cannot always be prevented but if you already know that you have a medical condition that can become worse at a moment's notice, talk to your doctor about other options. Perhaps there is a medication that you can keep handy to help you deal with the sudden onset of any complication associated with your medical condition.

Some insurance companies have a 24 hour nurse line that allows you to talk to a qualified nurse. If your insurance doesn't have this option find out if your general practitioner's office has an emergency number that you could call.

Another option is the urgent care clinics that are popping up grocery stores across the country. They are usually open late in evening and on the weekends as well. They are equipped to help with any minor urgent medical issue.

4. Get another quote

If you are faced with the possibility of needing a surgery, ask your doctor to give you a referral for at least two different facilities. Then call your insurance company and ask them which facility they would prefer you to attend. One of them may charge less.

However, always ask your doctor why he is recommending surgery or a test of any kind. Understand his reasoning, and then, if you disagree, get a second opinion from another doctor. Avoid unnecessary tests and surgeries if you can.

5. Check your prescriptions carefully

Prescription medications are an expensive part of medical costs. Unfortunately, it is something that everyone has to pay if they wish to get better or maintain their health. Take a look at your prescription medication to see how much you are really paying. Do you have prescription medication co-pay? Is that co-pay amount being properly utilized each time you get a new prescription? How about when you get a refill of an existing prescription?

Talk to your doctor about changing your prescriptions to include the choice of generic drugs as they are just as safe and effective as the brand name drugs are but are usually about 30 - 80% less in cost. If there is no generic drug available then speak with your doctor about changing prescriptions altogether. There may be a less expensive medication that you can use.

Another tip is to shop around for a better deal when paying for your prescription medications. Some places are more expensive than others. Some of the larger retail chains have generic medications for only $4 for a 30 day supply. However, some of the biggest savings are incurred when using the mail-order option that most prescription plans offer. This way you are able to order up to 90 days supply at a minimal cost and it will be shipped right to your front door.

There are even patient assistance programs that are sponsored by some of the bigger drug companies that you can become enrolled in. These programs provide free or low cost medication to people who are in need, whilst others offer pharmacy discount cards. Talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible.

6. Double check that bill

Read over your medical bill carefully and check for any typos or errors in the numbers. Make sure that you are being billed correctly by matching your explanation of benefits statements with the medical bill. Also check to see that you did receive the treatment for you which you are being billed and that you are not being billed twice.

Photo Credit: Lee Nachtigal

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