Health care is a continual topic of debate; but while politicians debate it, we continue to pay the high prices for care and prescriptions. And even for those adults with insurance coverage, 78.7% of the U.S. population according to 2010 National Health Interview Survey, medical care is expensive. Below you'll find tips for saving money on costs inherent in medical care.
Shop for Health Insurance Annually
It is necessary that you review and analyze your health care spending each year so that you can understand where you spend the most. To do this, you should keep all receipts from health visits and prescriptions, and add up you and your family's total cost for dentist and doctor visits, and regular prescriptions. From there, you should research other health insurance plans and companies to see if they offer you more bang for your buck or, more importantly, the services you need for a price you can afford.
Your health insurance benefits change yearly, and sometimes these changes are quite drastic. Your health insurance program may be perfect one year, and the next much less practical. Because health care is a necessity, it is imperative that you review benefit changes annually to ensure that your plan offers you everything that you need; this is especially true if you have "pre-existing" health conditions.
Certain circumstances make people eligible for discounts on their health insurance plan. Ask your insurance company if you can receive discounts for factors such as:
- Being a non-smoker;
- Being a triathlon, or other intense-activity participant;
- Being of a healthy weight;
- For your child's good grades; or
- Taking CPR course, or other "safety" course.
After all, it never hurts to ask.
Take Advantage of Discount Programs
There are medical discount programs for those citizens without health insurance. Participants of these programs save money when they pay "cash" at medical and dental clinics. Essentially, participants pay a monthly membership fee and are promised discounts on their care. Some companies that offer these types of membership programs are, AmeriPlan, Careington International, Qualified Health, and HealthInsurance.com.
However, those mulling over the idea of taking part in these types of programs must be cautious. You must understand that membership does not mean that you have health insurance. Also, some companies do not deliver on their promises, according to the Federal Trade Commission's website. Fully research any program you are considering.
Learn Money-Saving Loop Holes
Finding loop holes in the system might be difficult, but once you discover them, you'll have a world of savings opened up to you. Here are two examples:
- Become a member of your state's farm bureau. Surprisingly, any resident of a state, farmer or not, is eligible to become a member of a state's farm bureau. Many states offer farm bureau members discounts on various expenses, including health insurance and medical discount programs. For instance, in Texas, for $50 a year, members get discounts on Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company's health program, Careington's medical discount program, and Coast-to-Coast's discount eyewear program.
- Talk to your dentist or doctor about the services you need. If possible, break up your care services, such as procedures, between December and January. This may help you get better health care coverage because you will be allocating the costs between two plan years.
Work with Your Doctor
Doctors understand that the medical industry is an expensive one; they have the medical malpractice premiums to prove it. As such, doctors will usually be more than happy to work with you to not only get the care you need, but save when possible. Here are ways to save money by working with your doctor.
Always go to your doctor prepared with your insurance company's list of preferred-providers and covered medications list. For those plans that require specialist referrals, showing your doctor the list of providers that are covered under your plan will allow you to get the medical treatment you need within your plan's guidelines; this will ensure that you don't have to pay "out of network" costs, which many times are void of any insurance coverage. Also, each insurance provider has a system for categorizing medications based on price; going into a doctor's appointment with your covered medications list will allow you and your doctor to decide on the best and most affordable medication that corresponds with the guidelines of your insurance plan.
If you want to save money (and who doesn't?), talk about it with your doctor. If your doctor suggests a treatment or medication, ask if there are alternative treatments or medications that are less expensive. For instance, ask if he/she is willing to prescribe you a higher dose of medicine than is recommended so that you can cut your pills. Many times, drugs with higher doses cost slightly more or, depending on your insurance plan, have the save copay as lower doses of the same drug. In cutting higher doses of pills in half, you'll see real savings. Also, ask your doctor if he/she is willing to negotiate on medical care fees. Many engage in this practice and have the savings to prove it.
Always Ask For Samples.
Any time your physician suggests a medicine, ask for samples. This allows you to see if the medication is effective before purchasing a prescription, free of charge. And, if you're lucky, sometimes samples may even allow you to bypass purchasing a prescription altogether.
About the Author: Allison Dean is a professional blogger and writer. After graduating from the University of Texas in 2005, Allison began her life as a writer. She now holds a permanent writing position with an organization that acts as a reliable educational resource for laypersons to depend on when they have legal problems relating to medical treatment and care. This resource provides citizens with information on everything from what determines a malpractice case to how to find the best possible medical malpractice lawyers to represent them.