With the discussion of the Affordable Care Act, reductions in Medicare spending and changes in employer-offered healthcare, almost everyone is concerned about the costs of staying healthy. One issue is that for years, no one has treated healthcare like a commodity. We went to the doctor when we needed to and paid what they told us to. Now, to save money on healthcare, treat it like any other major purchase. Shop around and save.
Understand Your Insurance Plan
Many people end up paying more than they need to for healthcare because they simply don't understand what their insurance policy covers. Knowing which doctors you can see, when you need a referral and what medications or treatments are covered can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Work with you healthcare provider to find less expensive alternatives and opt for preventative care to avoid costly illnesses.
Even if you have insurance, shop around when looking for major medical procedures. The cost of an MRI, for instance, can vary greatly depending on where the test is performed, what machinery is used, and when you have it done. Non-hospital facilities will often offer considerably lower rates in an effort to attract patients.
And don't be afraid to ask for a discount. Some providers already reduce their fees for insurance companies, especially the ones that they are preferred providers for, but asking if there is a discount available for paying cash at the time of the service can often save you money. If it's something your insurance will eventually pay for, the provider's office may even be willing to help you file the claim and still give you a discount just because the cash flow happens more quickly when you pay the day of service.
The absolute best way to reduce your healthcare costs is to get healthier. That means eating properly and getting some exercise. Your employer may offer nutrition counseling or support programs to help you get more fit. Some employers will help pay for a gym membership or have employer sponsored recreational activities meant to help increase your fitness level.
This is especially important if you have a family history or chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes. Making a pre-emptive strike to get healthy before you are diagnosed with a major illness can help reduce your insurance premiums and your overall healthcare expenses.
Additionally, annual check-ups can help detect illness before it becomes a major expense. Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly.
Finally, make sure you get the health insurance coverage you need. Insurance brokers can help you devise a plan that fits the needs of you and your family and is tailored to both your financial and health needs.