Part of the reason why dealing with health insurance is so frustrating is because the entire process can make you feel powerless, especially when it comes to paying your medical bills. But you aren’t. The right information just hasn’t been made available to you until now. One day, we’ll have a transparent healthcare system but, until then, these are the steps you can take to lower your medical costs.
1. Take advantage of free health screenings
It’s proven that preventive health screenings and health consultations increase your life expectancy. And the great news is that nowadays you can get those health screenings that would normally cost money… for free.
There are a wealth of health screenings available to you. Just googling “free health screenings” yields 3,910,000 results. And you don’t even have to go out of your way. Make them a part of your errand run. You can now get screened while you’re getting groceries at Sam’s Club or picking something up at CVS.
The best part? If your plan’s coverage started after March 23, 2010 (and is therefore under the Affordable Care Act), then it is required by law to cover specific preventive care services, even if you are at risk for certain illnesses and diseases.
2. Confirm that urgent care is really urgent
Sometimes what you think requires an emergency room visit can actually be dealt with at home. Emergency room visits can cost as much as a semester of college. Most health insurance plan providers offer a free nurse hotline to their members. Calling a nurse hotline instead and asking them whether you can deal with your ailment at home can help save you money and time.
3. Better yet, go to urgent care instead
Urgent care clinics treat illnesses or injuries that are not quite severe enough to require a visit to an emergency room. And they cost a whole lot less, making them a really good alternative to the ER.
4. Make sure bills are free of errors
When it comes to medical costs, it pays to be thorough. Sometimes hospitals accidentally charge you twice of the same service, or the bill could have incorrect patient information. These are the eight most common medical bill errors and the ways that you can spot them.
5. Make sure ALL of your doctors are in-network
Your doctor might be covered by your health plan but, if your visit requires you to see other doctors, you need to make sure that the other doctors are covered too. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a medical bill that’s much higher than you anticipated.
6. Call around for lab tests
Testing can turn out to be a large part of your medical bill. Save money by calling your health plan before your hospital visit and finding out what labs your plan covers. Then, when you do see your doctor, tell them to send any tests to those specific labs.
7. Pay cash
If you have the cash to pay a medical bill upfront, doing so might just save you 20%.
8. Leverage the power of a Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is like an emergency fund for your healthcare costs. It allows you to financially plan for your medical costs with the added perk of tax benefits. It’s best for people who are in their late 20s to early 40s, are relatively healthy, and want lower out-of-pocket costs. This article breaks down the details of an HSA and what it can do for you.
9. Get your medication through alternative sources
10. Choose the right health plan for you
It’s really hard to save money on healthcare when you are enrolled in a plan that doesn’t meet your medical needs and is too expensive. Luckily, you can change your health plan on a yearly basis, and we can help. Our handy tool lets you find what plan is right for your needs and budget… in just 5 minutes.
Reading through this list you might notice a trend – saving money on healthcare comes down to being thorough and exploring your options. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that the healthcare system will take care of these things for you. It’s too massive and inefficient. That being said, there’s always an alternative. Whether it comes to your medication, treatment options, etc., you don’t have to be stuck with the highest bill.