The cost of healthcare continues to rise, and our country continues to grapple with how to deal with the problem. Meanwhile, millions of people still don’t have health insurance, and many more have insurance, but don’t have adequate coverage to meet their needs. Many are laboring under policies that have such high deductibles that they have to pay out of pocket for the majority of their healthcare costs.
Whether you have insurance or not, there are ways that you can cut back on your healthcare costs so that you pay even less. Here are a few ideas:
Many people have at least one prescription they have to pay every month. But even if they don’t take a regular prescription, they end up needing medications when they are ill, such as antibiotics. Prescriptions can be notoriously expensive, with some medications costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. If you don’t have insurance, that’s a huge bill to try to pay.
Fortunately, you can get discount prescriptions without insurance. You can compare costs at local pharmacies to find the best price, and you can get coupons where available to bring down the cost. Don’t try to buy prescriptions online or from overseas as these are not regulated and you don’t know what you’re getting. Also, read the labels on your prescriptions carefully to be aware of any side effects or complications.
Health Savings Accounts
A health savings account allows you to save money for your medical costs tax-free. The money is typically drawn from your paycheck before your taxes are deducted. Then you use a debit card to pay for medical expenses from the account.
An HSA doesn’t give you a discount on services. However, the more money you put into it, the more money you are able to keep in your own pocket, so to speak, instead of it going to Uncle Sam. You end up getting more out of your money by transferring it into the HSA. Just make sure that you are aware of the annual contribution limits and the restrictions around how the money can be spent. You don’t want to end up losing out on money that is unspent or that is spent incorrectly.
Many doctor’s offices will negotiate a lower rate with you if they know you are paying out of your own pocket without health insurance. In some cases, the discount can be as much as 50 percent for “cash” customers. That doesn’t meant that you have to pay cash — it just means that you are paying the doctor for services directly.
Find out what your doctor’s office will charge if you pay out of pocket. If you have already been billed, call and see what you can negotiate. You may be able to talk the bill down, even if you are rejected by the first person you talk to. Keep asking to talk to a supervisor until you can get the bill to an affordable level.
What if you are hit with a huge medical bill that you can’t pay no matter how much they discount it? Maybe you were in a car accident, or maybe you got laid up with pneumonia in the hospital. Whatever the case, you are looking at a bill that’s several hundred or several thousand dollars, and you can’t pay it.
Apply for your hospital’s charity care program or financial assistance program. (It may be called something else depending on the facility.) You will provide financial information, and they will decide if you qualify. If you are approved, the bill would be significantly reduced or eliminated. Some institutions will apply the assistance to future bills, as well. Your approval letter would include all the details.
Health care is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be prohibitively so. You need to see a doctor regularly to maintain your overall health and wellness. Otherwise, you will develop more serious conditions that can cause you to suffer and to have even more expensive medical bills. Be proactive about your health and use these tips for saving on the healthcare services you need. Remember to take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. The easiest way to save on medical costs is to make sure your body stays strong and healthy.