The cost of health care has soared in the last 30 years and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. As individuals, we are limited as to what we can do to fix the problem. However, there are a few tricks and tips that each of us can employ to reduce health care costs for our families. Here are 10 cost-cutting techniques that are worth exploring.
1. Explore All Insurance Options
Many people opt to purchase the health insurance offered through their employer. This is often a low cost option–especially when the employer pays for a portion of the premiums. However, it is important to remember that employer-sponsored health plans may not always be the best deal available. You should take time to explore various options through private insurers, member associations, and other insurance providers. Depending on your health care needs, it may also be prudent to check into a health savings account.
2. Raise Your Deductible
As with any insurance, raising the deductible (the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in) can lower the cost of your health insurance premiums. It may not sound like a good idea to do this, but the dollars you save in monthly premiums may add up to much more than the amount spent on the higher deductible.
3. Negotiate Lower Fees
Health care providers often have a low charge (for people without insurance) and a regular charge (for people with insurance). If you do not have any insurance or if you have financial problems, your doctor, hospital, and other health care providers may be willing to give you a discounted rate if you ask for it. Some medical facilities also offer financial aid to those who apply for it.
4. Ask About Generic Medication
Although many people worry that generic drugs are not as good as brand name medications, the truth is that the pharmacological effects are exactly the same for both. Generic drugs and brand name drugs share the same effects, the same side effects, and the same risks. The only real difference is the price. Your physician and your pharmacist will be able to tell you if a generic is available for your medication.
5. Ask for Freebies
Pharmaceutical companies give physicians more than 200 million dollars worth of free medication each year. These samples are designed to be given away to patients in need. You can apply for formal prescription assistance or simply ask your doctor for free samples.
6. Take Medication as Directed
According to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed. This leads to additional doctor visits, hospitalizations, and treatments that total more than $177 billion a year. Proof that following doctor’s orders could save you money in the long run.
7. Reduce the Cost for Hospital Stays
Some hospitals charge extra for toiletries, tissues, aspirin, prescription medication, and other items that you can bring from home. Find out if these things are included in your hospital stay as soon as you or a family member is admitted to the hospital. If charges apply, explain to the administration that you would like to use your own items to reduce your hospital bill.
8. Review Your Medical Bills
Hospitals and other medical facilities can make mistakes. When you receive a bill, look it over carefully to make sure there are no inaccuracies. Specific things to look for include duplicate charges, incorrect room charges, operating room time, keystroke errors, incorrect coding, and cancelled services. If you stayed in the hospital, you should also make sure you were charged for the correct number of days.
9. Take a Tax Deduction
Medical and dental care expenses can be deducted if the amount spent on care exceeds more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. If you are self-employed, you can also deduct 100 percent of your insurance premiums.
10. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
If you eat right, exercise regularly, and follow doctor’s orders, you will not only feel better, you will also save a lot of money on medical expenses over the long term.