WAYS TO TRIM YOUR HEALTH CARE COSTS
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.
- 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; Rxaminer.com 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.
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