It is safe to say that every person in America has been affected by the massive rise in insurance. Whether you pay for private insurance or receive Medicare, there are out-of-pocket expenses that can devastate your budget.
You will have to be aware and diligent in order to get the health care you need without taking large financial hits. There are ways to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses without sacrificing health care services. We have listed a few tips for you below. Follow these 8 tips to reduce your out-of-pocket health care costs.
Reducing out-of-pocket expense
- Understand your policy
Insurance policies are confusing. There are co-pays and deductibles. There is a different co-pay for different types of doctors. A specialist is always going to cost more than a general practitioner. Read your policy and call your provider and ask questions. Do not give up until you understand your policy.
- Speak up
You are going to have to use your voice to stay ahead of this game. Talk to your doctors. Tell them what you can and cannot afford. Ask them to negotiate, Many times a doctor will negotiate prices, but people are afraid to ask. We often forget that our doctors are a business. Like any other business, they need customers (patients).
- Go to the right doctor
People who have no insurance and folks who simply cannot afford the copay will often go to the emergency room for help, even if the illness or injury is not an emergency. That will get them in front of a doctor without paying the copay if they do not have it at the moment. But this will always bite you in the end. Emergency Rooms charge a lot more than a doctor’s visit. Often the patient will end up paying hundreds of dollars to a hospital when they could have seen a doctor for less than $100.00. If you have a life-threatening situation, go to the ER. If not, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If you are in a situation where you cannot pay the copay, try to work it out with his office staff.
- Use Telemedicine
Have you ever wondered what an astronaut does when he is in a spaceship and needs a doctor? NASA has used telemedicine for years. They basically see a doctor on a computer screen. That service is offered through many companies for general people to. Sites like Doctors On Demand allow you to speak with a doctor and get treatment via the internet or telephone.
- Use generic drugs
Generic prescriptions are much less expensive than the name brand. The makers of a generic drug must use the same ingredients as the prescription and there cannot be more than a 10% difference in the mix. This makes generic drugs effective and cheaper solutions.
- You are the captain of the ship
You go to a doctor and he refers you to a different doctor. He may even set up the appointment. Do not assume that he has taken the time to see if his choice of doctors is in your network. He may think Dr. X is great, maybe they even play golf together. But if Dr. X is not in your network you are going to pay a large bill when it is over. Just because he accepts your insurance does not mean he is in your network. Ask!
- Pay cash
Many doctors have begun offering patients discounts for paying the bills for procedures in cash at the time of service. Perhaps you are going for a gallbladder removal. Call several doctors and ask for a price. Be sure you know what is included in the price. When you have nailed the price down, ask if they will give you a discount to pay up front. This saves the provider money in processing paperwork to bill you and he gets his money without waiting.
- Know your choices
The public has options now. We do not have to use the first provider to mail us a card. We have choices. Educate yourself. Let professionals help you cut through the red tape and get the right provider for your personal needs. Do not assume the doctors you see know what your insurance will or will not cover. Sometimes they do, but not always. It is up to you to protect yourself.