NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 18, 2008

The one expenditure that a lot of people assume they have little or no control over is health care costs. Yet, a little common sense and a healthy dose of consumerism can reward savvy shoppers with significant savings without sacrificing care, says Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Insurance options:

  • Check your insurance plan since the end of December marks the end of open enrollment at many companies; for those insured through an employer, review your health plan choices.
  • A Health Savings Account (HSA) might save you money over a PPO or HMO, especially with employer contributions.
  • If on a non-group plan, shop around and consider increasing your deductible to reduce your premium and still maintain major medical coverage.

Ask about cash rates and discounts:

  • If uninsured, negotiate in advance of receiving care.
  • Check the Internet for discount card programs that lower costs at hospitals, pharmacies, labs and retail clinics.

Shop for better prescription deals:

  • There are many ways to reduce prescription drug costs; for example, consider therapeutic alternatives and/or generics.
  • Compare prices among local pharmacies and reputable online sites; has free pharmacy cost comparisons.
  • Numerous pharmacies now have generics for as little as $4 per monthly supply, and $10 for three months; even if you have insurance, these low prices can sometimes beat the negotiated insurance rates.

Ask your doctor about generic versions of your medications:

  • For brand name drugs, ask your doctor for samples (Note: free samples are generally not available in generic form).
  • Also, go to the drug manufacturer Web site and check for discount coupons, rebates and cost assistance programs.

Cut office-visit costs:

  • Retail clinics (such as MinuteClinic or RediClinic) or telemedicine services (such as TelaDoc) can cost significantly less than traditional office visits.
  • A visit to a walk-in clinic can result in a bill that is less than half of what you'd see from a doctor's office visit and a fraction of emergency room treatment; TelaDoc is about $35 per consultation.

Source: Press Release, "Ten Ways to Trim Your Health Care Costs," National Center for Policy Analysis/MarketWatch, December 18, 2008.


Browse more articles on Health Issues