Thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), more people have access to affordable healthcare than ever before. Affordable isn’t free, however, and a trip to the doctor still has costs, even with insurance.
For example, going to the doctor for bronchitis can set you back anywhere from $15 to $50 for the office visit (depending on your copay), and a similar amount for your prescriptions. Go to the hospital with an injury, or for more extensive medical treatment, and it could cost you even more.
Having insurance is a good first step, and here are some others to help you save money on your medical expenses.
1. Review your insurance policy
You’re probably aware of the basics, such as which services are covered or which doctors are on your plan, but that’s only part of the picture. For example, your insurance may cover chiropractic care, but only from certain providers, for a limited number of sessions, or only if referred by another physician. Scheduling an appointment, without know this, could end up costing you.
Also, insurance policies can change, including the provider lists. Insurance companies usually keep updated policy and provider information online. For example, USHealth Group Private has current physician listings on their website, and on sites like ZocDoc.com.
2. Get Free Samples
Bars and attractions aren’t the only place that you can get free stuff. Most doctors’ offices have a stash of sample medication that they’re meant to give to patients for free. The point is that, if the patient likes the medication, he will ask for it again and the pharmaceutical company has a new customer.
The next time your doctor gives you a prescription, especially for something short-term, ask him if he has any samples. It can save you money over filling your prescription at the pharmacy.
3. Find Other Drug Savings
It’s no secret that generics cost less than brand name, but did you now that getting higher doses of your medication can actually save you money? Some medications can be cut in half, so you could get 15 150mg pills, and cut them in half for 30 75mg pills. You need to make sure that your medication is one that that can be cut in half (time-release medicines can’t). If the pills aren’t scored, with a line across the center, you can cut them yourself with an inexpensive pill cutter.
Buying mail order is another way to save. Mail-order pharmacies usually give savings, especially if you get them three months at a time. Check with your insurance company to see if it has a mail-order option, or check with a reputable online pharmacy.
You can even get certain medical tests for free. You can find free blood pressure cuffs at your local pharmacy, and health fairs often offer basic screening tests, like glucose and cholesterol, free. If your results are outside the normal range, the machine or the medical professional administering the test can refer you to your physician.
Some hospitals and doctor’s offices are willing to negotiate with patients for the cost of services. You may need to fill out some forms, and divulge your finances, but you can often get a reduced rate.
Another option is to ask for an itemized bill, and scrutinize it carefully. Medical bills can have a lot of erroneous charges that you might be able to negotiate for removal, and lower your bill.
You may also be able to get a discount if you pay in cash, because the facility won’t have to deal with the cost of payment processing.