12 Practical Ways to Reduce Your Health Care Costs

Many Americans will hunt for a coupon that saves them 50 cents at the supermarket. However, when it comes to health care, we rarely ask questions or consider all the options that could save us time and money. Here are 12 practical ways you can reduce your health care costs.

1. Make a deal

Ask your doctor, hospital or dentist if they will accept less. Studies show that the majority of individuals who bargain succeed.

2. Know how much it costs

You’ll be more prepared to negotiate discounts when you know the real costs of care. Websites like Healthcare Bluebook can help you discover the true cost of the care you’re seeking before you have the procedure or test performed.

3. Pay in cash

You can routinely save up to 10% on your bill by paying in cash up front, and often much more than that. Doctors lose thousands of dollars every year on credit card processing fees, unpaid bills and collection fees.

4. Look at your bill closely

You will often find mistakes. Keep track of your visits, tests and medications, and compare them against your bills. Request a corrected bill if you find an error and notify your insurance company.

5. Follow instructions

Follow your health care provider’s instructions for medications. Ignoring instructions could result in additional prescription costs, extra trips to the doctor or even hospitalization.

6. Visit a retail health clinic

Retail health clinics are growing in number. They are popping up in high-traffic retail outlets in metropolitan areas around the country. While these clinics lack the personal nature of seeing a family physician who knows your complete medical history, they offer convenience and low prices.

7. Stay in-network

Your medical costs can increase greatly when you visit a provider who is not in your plan’s network. Make sure your primary care doctor and any specialists you may need to see are in your network whenever possible.

8. Understand what your plan covers

Check your insurance company’s website or call their customer service line to make sure you aren’t needlessly paying for health care that is covered by your insurance.

 9. Ask before you go

If you must see a specialist who isn’t within your network, call your insurance company’s pre-certification department and explain why you must use an out-of-network specialist. You can often get your insurance company to agree to pay in-network rates in order to avoid the expensive appeal process. If that doesn’t work, ask your specialist to accept the in-network rate.

10. Choose your health plan wisely

Choosing the plan with the lowest premiums or sticking with the same plan year to year may not be the smartest option. Anticipate your family’s medical expenses and look closely at each plan option to find the most appropriate and cost-effective one for you.

11. Take advantage of flexible spending accounts

A flexible spending account, or FSA, is an employee benefit program that allows you to set aside money on a pretax basis for certain health care and dependent care expenses. That means you keep more of your money.

12. Don’t skimp on preventive care

Be sure your child gets routine checkups and vaccines as needed, both of which can prevent medical problems (and bills) down the road. Also, adults should get the preventive screenings recommended for their age in order to detect health conditions early.

Mark Bailey, Jr.

Mark is the Sr. Marketing Manager with The Bailey Group, the benefits and broker consultant working with the JPOFFHIT. Growing up he wanted to be a police officer so that he could play with the lights and siren whenever he wanted, but somehow he ended up in insurance.