6 Ways to Save Money on Medical Expenses

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There’s no two ways around it – healthcare costs can be a tremendous burden once they begin to pile up. And with the recent developments that Obamacare may be under fire again, it’s important to understand how you can stay on top of your medical bills and minimize their impact. Fortunately, today we’re going to outline six smart ways you can save money on medical expenses. And I’ll explain why a few common practices aren’t such a good idea. Check them out here:

6 Ways to Save Money on Medical Expenses
6 Ways to Save Money on Medical Expenses

1. Sign Up For High-Quality Insurance

No one likes making monthly insurance payments. However, partnering with the right insurance provider could end up saving you huge amounts of both money and stress down the line. The risks of going without health insurance in the hope of saving a few bucks here or there are simply too great to consider. Indeed, having to pay for serious medical treatments all on your own could put you into tens of thousands of dollars of debt in the space of just a few days or weeks. In addition, it’s a wise idea to apply for insurance in your 20s. Younger individuals will be able to secure lower payment rates and find plans with vital benefits. Rather than putting off this expense until later, get this sorted out ASAP!

2. Visit Your Doctor Regularly

It may sound counter-intuitive to try and save money by visiting your regular MD more often, yet, doctors can help you stay ahead of minor conditions and address/cure them before they contribute to other, more serious medical issues. Even something as innocuous as a hernia can become life-threatening if left untreated! By nipping potential problems in the bud, you not only improve your health, but will likely save a lot of cash as well.

3. Seek Out Free Opportunities

Believe it or not, there are private organizations dedicated to providing free or extremely minimal-cost medical services. In fact, there are a number of charitable groups that set up clinics devoted to particular medical conditions. For instance, most major cities have at least on STD testing center that offers free or nearly free services. Before you decide to let your insurance cover a medical expense (and potentially face increased rates as a result) see if there’s an alternative option available.

4. Request Generic Drugs

The pharmaceutical industry is, in many ways, similar to many other business fields. To wit, brand-name medications and drugs tend to cost consumers a premium. Most of the time, though, generic drugs are just as effective and a good deal cheaper. Ask your doctor about the possibility of switching treatment to a more affordable medication. Chances are, you’ll be able to save a decent amount by switching.

5. Avoid Unnecessary ER Trips to really Save Money on Medical Expenses

Of course, you should visit the emergency room if you need medical assistance quickly. At the end of the day, your well-being is more important than the costs associated with a hospital stay. Nevertheless, if at all possible, cut out unnecessary trips to the emergency room. The emergency room is for emergencies only, so unless you truly need medical attention right away, schedule a regular doctor’s appointment instead. Additionally, if you find yourself scheduling more and more medical appointments without just cause, you may be suffering from illness anxiety disorder.

6. Set up a Payment Plan

Though you may feel isolated and nervous about paying off your medical bills, the reality is that millions of Americans are in the same position as you are. Many people struggle to cover their healthcare expenses and therefore, it’s completely reasonable to talk to your medical providers about setting up a payment plan that works for you. Many organizations will be more than willing to accommodate your financial situation, and they’ll help you arrive at a solution for your healthcare debt. The key, naturally, is to ask first and be willing to negotiate. Don’t pay for more than you have to!

The Bottom Line

Effectively budgeting for medical expenses is extremely difficult. And though it makes a lot of sense to set aside a rainy day fund for just such an unexpected setback, it’s still quite easy to get caught out by the price of healthcare services. Thankfully, by following the above steps you can alleviate some of the financial burden healthcare costs create.

( Photo by Pictures of Money )

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8 Responses to 6 Ways to Save Money on Medical Expenses

  1. Great tips, Kevin. I recently had a chance to lower some of my costs (my out of pocket cost) by switching my PPO plan, which included my drug prescription coverage and my regular doctor visits. Since everyone is talking about going “Medicare for All”, I feel I should enlighten those who think it is an all coverage plan. A good affordable healthcare plan should cover all WellCare visits and any lab and blood tests that those requirements with a small co-pay for those visits. You referred to them in your article (seeing the doctor regularly). Too many people avoid seeing their doctor because of the WellCare visits are not covered upfront or not covered at all. Depending on your age and physical health conditions, your WellCare visits per year will vary. (Basically, the doctor checks your blood pressure and weight and once a year does blood tests for cholesterol levels) If you are given prescription medication, your costs should only be minimal, especially if using a medication drug that has been on the market the cost to the patient should be minimal if any. No one should be paying a high cost for a drug that cost little to make for the drug company.
    I have been on Medicare for 3 years now and from day one, I have been constantly checking my costs (out of pocket) and how my insurance pays. What we need as consumers of healthcare insurance is the real cost transparency not what cost creates profit line. I checked those posted costs versus the what is covered and there’s too much discrepancy, which why we as patients get so much pushed to us in out of pocket cost.
    As I stated I was given a chance to eliminate and/or lower my out of pocket costs but switching plans to the Aetna/CVS healthcare. I already used the pharmacy and the plan was accepted by my doctor. The first thing I noticed was the medication cost was lower. I highly recommend you check how much your medication costs are billed. On my old plan, my medication was charged higher. (same medication) Plus my lab cost was lowered I don’t mind some costs but I want to know before not after. This is what your article is pushing for, informed consumers of healthcare and preventive care, no matter your age. We need to keep our costs low and not have to pay for the profit of the shareholders.

  2. Hi MariaRose – I didn’t write this article, Chans Weber did. I think he was driving at seeing your doctor regularly as a preventative strategy. But I see your point. Unfortunately, one of the ways going to the doctor becomes counterproductive – financially – is that there’s an excellent chance they’ll find some condition that requires ongoing treatment. That’s especially true as you get older.

    But you’re absolutely right, when it reaches that point, you have to do everything possible to monitor the costs your paying. The healthcare industry in general tends to be as vague as possible in that regard. That’s what makes it tough. But we should do our best to plow through all the obstructions, and get to the actual costs we’ll be paying. It’s a real uphill fight!

  3. I must disagree with “A good affordable healthcare plan should cover all WellCare visits and any lab and blood tests that those requirements with a small co-pay for those visits.” That’s the conventional thinking. We want our medical stuff to be handled by our insurance at minimal to no cost to us. That’s part of what’s led us to the mess we’re in today, where healthy and self-sufficient people like myself cannot buy insurance of decent quality, at any price. I would gladly pay a fair price for the routine expenses like physicals, doctor visits and prescriptions – in exchange for catastrophic coverage for major diseases and such. But that’s not how “the system” is rigged right now.

  4. That’s true Larry, the ACA did away with true catastrophic coverage, at least the low cost variety. But now most plans really are catastrophic, but at high premium levels, as though they were gold-plated. It’s like Walmart quality at Neiman-Marcus prices.

  5. The way the ACA program is set up, we are paying for services (considered essential coverage) we might not ever need. We need to take control of the services we do need (everyone is different,) and control the cost to us. A government-run healthcare program would extremely limit what services we can get. Take Britain, where eyecare service is available but when you get the service and what procedure you will get is predetermined by the program (i.e. your need for the service is determined by how severe is the condition) there’s no preventive care. Why because it is cost effective for the program. I am mentioning this because this is the real cost of “free” government-run healthcare programs. Most of us here, want to have access to medical care when we need it and not have to pay through the nose for the cost because someone has to bear the cost for the “free” services.
    As a side note, I thought I would add a story Isaw on my Twitter feed—AOC was on the show The Price is Right–which I watch sometimes as a way to keep an active awareness of prices of items. Well AOC (with her “vast knowledge” of cost, bid FREE on every item and then wondered why she lost the bid and wasn’t a contestant for the bigger prizes. She never got off the first bidder station. On top of that, she claimed the game was rigged by capitalism and “everybody knows giant piles of money are free, that’s like basic economics 101”
    This is the idiocy of the politicians, we have to deal with and we need to keep control of our healthcare out of their hands.

  6. I haven’t been following AOC MariaRose, but everything I’m hearing and reading about her is consistent with what you’ve written. Unfortunately, our society has been overtaken by a kind of alternate reality that millions are buying into. People really believe we can get something for nothing, and that idea is so compelling, people want to believe it even if better judgement says otherwise. Unfortunately, people like AOC, who play into that fantasy can go much further than reasonable people ever believe. We often forget that Adolph Hitler didn’t take over Germany in a bloody coupe – he was elected. I’m not making comparisons between Hitler and AOC, other than to show that the most unlikely people can rise to power even by stacking lies and fantasies.

  7. My 2 cents…At 57, we try to eat right, regularly visit our inexpensive gym, and keep our mental health in check. Take advantage of all the perks our health ins offers. If you really read your specific coverage you really can maximize it. Our med plan slashed 75% if we changed to Express Scripts. It’s not all unicorns n rainbows but you can be sure I educate myself a lot more.

  8. Hi Ruth Ann – You’re absolutely correct that most of us don’t adequately explore our health insurance plans. There are a number of what we might call soft perks, like reductions for gym memberships and weight loss programs. Some even offer health counseling services. We don’t normally take advantage of those, focusing instead on the basic coverage for actual healthcare. But lifestyle certainly matters, it’s just easy to forget.

    But what I really love is what you said about keeping your mental health in check. That’s absolutely brilliant! So much of what happens with the body starts in the mind. I think it was Charles Stanley who said the mind is the control center of the body, and it’s easy to underestimate. There’s a strong mind-body connection, and we all need to do our best to get that right. I believe that at least 50% of our health-related problems are mostly between our ears.

    There’s also a connection between physical health and outlook. It’s easy to obsess on all the potential problems the future holds, but it takes a toll on the body. Most of what we worry about never comes to pass, but we degrade our health worrying over it. At the same time, we often underestimate that just as there will be unexpected problems, there will also be unexpected advantages. We can’t calculate either, but that’s really the point. Worrying about what hasn’t happened – and probably never will – can tear us down without providing any benefit.

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