How to Lower Your Health Care Costs
Saving Money on Health Care Requires a Knowledge of How the System Works
Health care costs have been rising much faster than other living expenses. Understanding how the health care system works can give you an advantage when it comes to lowering your expenses. Here are some tips and ideas as to how to cut your health care costs.
Ways to Lower Your Health Care Costs:
- First and foremost, realize that almost all medical costs are negotiable. Try negotiating upfront or using the following techniques to lower your costs. Also, after you recieve a bill, you should try to negotiate. Ask the hospital or provider for a break on your bill. They'll often give you a discount just for asking. You may want to let them know your financial position and encourage them to take a much smaller amount for the services. They would rather get paid for some of the health costs than none.
- Stay in-network. Choose facilities and doctors that are in your health insurance network. Your insurance company has negotiated rates with them that will be much lower than out-of-network providers.
- Be careful with after hours care. If you need to see a doctor after hours or over the weekend, and it is not an emergency, try to find an after hours clinic, or an urgent care clinic. Clinics are almost always cost less and are sometimes as much as 80% less expensive. Do your research and find any such clinics in your area before you need them.
- Investigate independent facilities. Independent facilities are usually cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, than the exact same health care from a hospital. They often have the same doctors working but don't have to charge for the overhead that a hospital has. Independent facilities include radiology, MRI, dialysis, x-ray and many other specific areas.
- Similar to the previous point, ask your doctor and other hospital staff about alternative facilities. You can often save substantial money by using outpatient surgery centers or alternative healthcare facilities. Call around to several urgent care or subsidized care facilities to ask for help locating the lower cost care. You can call the facilities and compare their prices before you use their services.
- An obvious one, but very useful, is to switch to generic drugs. They are exactly the same as name brand drugs but are a fraction of the cost. If the drug you are prescribed is not available in generic, ask your doctor if there is a replacement drug that is available in generic.
- Save money by using mail order drugs. You can often get a three month supply for the same cost as a one month supply at your local pharmacy.
- Utilize a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Put money in a tax-free account that can be used to pay for your medical expenses. You will not have to pay federal, state or social security taxes on this contribution and it can save you up to 50%.
- When you get your bill, ask for a cash discount. They will often throw off 5 - 20% if you pay in cash.
- Visit and study your insurer's website. They often have tools to help you find lower cost and in-network providers, and you can gain access to the negotiated rates that they have with their providers. Being informed on your options will always put you in a better position to save money.
- Ask your doctor about splitting your pills. Because most insurance only covers 30 days worth of pills, some doctors will write you a prescription for double the strength of your pills if you agree to take only half a pill for each dose.
- Also, visit our page on how to save on health insurance.
- Read our article on ways to save money to get many more unique ideas.
See Also: Money Saving Ideas