Saving Money On Medical Expenses

Many consumers have experienced difficulty using their health insurance in the last year, and the impact of health premiums on budgets is a top concern for families.

Here are  some ways to slash or manage your medical costs.

Is it necessary. Providers don’t often consider cost, but if you explain, they may change their course of action to eliminate less necessary tests.

Buy generic Ask if your medication comes in a generic. Generics are as safe as their brand-name equivalents and may cost up to 80 percent less.

Investigate fair pricing. The Healthcare Bluebook features a service’s “fair price” by ZIP code based on a database of rates paid by private insurers.

Choose the right facility. Urgent care clinics cost a fraction of emergency rooms. They are usually less crowded and specialize in non-emergency care.

Ask about cash discounts. Talk to your doctor, hospital and insurance company about the cost of a procedure or office visit and which of your local facilities charges less. Sometimes facilities offer a discount if you’re paying cash.

Set up a payment plan. Avoid putting medical bills on a credit card because it becomes consumer debt, which can adversely affect your credit. Contact the provider to find out if you can set up a payment plan.

Hire a medical billing advocate. Patient advocates offer a variety of services including paperwork tracking, negotiating a lower rate and help researching treatment options.

Open a health savings account (HSA). If you have an HSA-qualified health plan, open an accompanying HSA account and deposit pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. The money rolls over every year and is deducted from your gross income.

Watch for mistakes. Keep a sharp eye on “Explanation of Benefit” statements and bills for errors. Even if you’re being billed correctly, it pays to ask questions so you understand your insurance benefits.

Understand your insurance coverage. Be sure to check that your in-network providers still accept your policy. Double check how your insurance covers in-network and out-of-network providers, medications, and chronic conditions so you don’t end up making a financial misstep.