With the cost of healthcare on the rise, it has never been more important to look for savings whenever and wherever you can. Employers have been pushing more and more healthcare costs down to their workers, and retirees can face even steeper prices when they visit the doctor.
You may not be able to do anything about over healthcare cost inflation, but there are things you can do to lower your own expenses. Taking a proactive approach to controlling your personal healthcare costs could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.
Seek Out Super-Preferred Providers
You already know that sticking to in-network providers can save you money, but you could get even lower prices by seeking out so-called super-preferred providers. Every health insurer uses slightly different terminology for these programs, so you might need to do a bit of sleuthing to find them. You can be well rewarded for your hard work, however, in the form of lower co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs.
Health insurers typically choose their super-preferred providers based on their ability to provide superior healthcare at lower prices. Those strict criteria can make choosing a super-preferred provider a smart choice, even without the extra cost savings.
Ask Your Doctor About Less Expensive Options
Patients have historically been reluctant to ask about cheaper options when visiting the doctor, and physicians have often had little advice to offer when they did. That is starting to change, as patients and healthcare providers alike are paying more attention to the cost of healthcare.
If you are planning an elective procedure, ask your doctor about potentially money-saving options. If your doctor works with both a local hospital and an outpatient surgery center, you might pay far less by opting for the latter option. Hospital fees can really add up, and those extra costs will not necessarily improve your care.
Opt for Urgent Care Instead of the ER
If you think you are having a heart attack, you need to get to the emergency room right away. If you sprain your ankle or step on a rusty nail, an urgent care center is probably a better option.
The emergency room remains the most expensive place in the world of healthcare, and avoiding it can save you money. Urgent care centers have been springing up around the country, and the staff there can deal with everything from colds and flu to broken bones and abrasions. Urgent care centers often have extended hours, making them good alternatives to expensive emergency rooms.
Watch for News of New Generic Drugs
If you take a maintenance medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or another chronic condition, you need to stay on the lookout for cheaper alternatives. New generic medications are coming to market every day, and they can save you a lot of money.
If you see that a new generic is coming to market for your condition, make a note to talk to your doctor about it. Switching to the new generic could save you a lot of money and yield great results.
Saving money on healthcare costs is not always easy. It pays to be flexible and proactive, and staying educated is always a smart strategy. Patients are not used to treating doctor visits and prescription drugs as consumer goods, but doing some smart shopping could save you a lot of money.
Check out Telemedicine Options
If you have a higher deductible policy or your family tends to “share” common illnesses like flu or allergies, a telemedicine program could be a very good option for you. You talk to or video call a doctor over your phone or through an app, and if appropriate make a diagnosis and can even call in a prescription for you to your nearby pharmacy. No need to take time off your job (unless you are contagious), no worry about multiple co-payments if more than one of you is ill, one call can take care of everyone in the family.