Ways to Reduce Health Care Costs

Preventive care, preventive care, preventive care!

It’s hard to stress the importance of preventive care. But if you’re worried about your health care costs it’s the easiest way to potentially help lower your health care costs.

Get your annual physical exam.

The nurse and physician will check your blood pressure, height and weight, cholesterol, check to see if you are updated on your vaccines and test you for sexually transmitted diseases, if you so chose. The simple check-up will make sure you are in good overall health.

Practice self-exams, avoid reactive care.

If you notice a growth, lump, or just something that wasn’t there before and has not gone away over a period of time, get it checked out. Don’t wait six months, go now. Specialty doctors are more expensive than a family doctor, and some times a family doctor can diagnose the problem. However, if you need to be seen by a specialty doctor, the family doctor will be able to give you a recommendation.

Save the emergency room for emergencies.

If you have a cold, see if you can remedy it with soup, over-the-counter medicine and rest. Going immediately to the emergency room will undoubtedly be more expensive than a visit to your local pharmacy or primary care physician.

Take care of your body now.

A healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods and regular exercise could drive down your health care costs over time. You could save money on prescription drugs and frequent doctor visits because of ongoing illnesses caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Eating healthy and getting more exercise doesn’t mean joining an expensive gym or shopping at specialty food stores. You can make changes to your life today by starting small and working towards attainable goals. If you know you need to quit smoking, cut back first and make a gradual change before going cold turkey. Add a whole fruit or vegetable to your diet, and instead of a mixed drink have beer or wine. Buy foods in their natural state versus pre-packaged foods. Instead of elevators, take the stairs. Instead of letting your dog out in the backyard, take her for a walk. Spend time with your family at a park or even the mall instead of in front of your television.

A healthy lifestyle will not only help drive down your health care costs, but will most likely, make you happier.

Tips to Cut Your Health Care Costs

I recently had an experience that opened my eyes to the healthcare system. I have been fortunate to have good insurance coverage for the last 30 years. I am like many others, when the cost of care doesn’t impact my pocketbook; I am not a wise a consumer as I should be.

We recently have had changes in our insurance coverage, as many of you have experienced too. We have had some hefty out-of-pocket costs that has set me on a journey to be a wiser consumer.

I found a report by Kiplinger “50 Ways to Cut Your Health Care Costs.” I will share a few of the tips here. I have added it as a link on the website under resources. You may explore it further. I will hit the high points. Some you will know and others I hope you will find new and useful.

Stay in Your Network

Insurers have negotiated pricing with providers. You see those prices with providers in the network. You may also have a higher co-pay or co-insurance for providers out of the network, and also a higher deductible and a higher annual limit.

Save at Stand-Alone Radiology Centers

The average outpatient hospital cost for MRI and CAT scans is $1,384 to $1,668. But the average radiology center costs $445 to $725. (Information from Cigna) There can be a huge range between the highest and lowest costs in your area. [Most insurers have tools to help you compare the costs of x-rays and tests at different types of facilities in your area.] Check your insurer’s website.

Ask Your Doctor about Cheaper Facilities

Most doctors have privileges at several hospitals or outpatient surgery centers. The doctor’s costs will be the same. However, the facility fees can vary by thousands of dollars. This was an “A-Ha moment” for me. I learned after the fact, the doctor’s clinic would cost 1/3 the fees as the hospital. I think that is one reason why so many of these clinics and surgery centers are sprouting up.

Avoid the Emergency Room if You Can

You may not always be able to avoid an emergency care visit. However, you may be able to go to a much less expensive urgent care center or convenience care clinic. Cigna suggests using these facilities for minor cuts, burns, sprains, joint or lower back pains, and urinary infections. The average cost nationwide for an emergency room visit is $1,553 compared with $135 for an urgent care center and $58 for a convenience care clinic.

Determine ahead of time, who is in your network. You don’t want to be fumbling around when you have an emergency.

Sometimes you can’t avoid a trip to the emergency room, but you can still manage the costs as best as you can. You may be in the ER, but you are still the consumer. The triage protocols have employees following certain procedures. You need to be vocal about what you believe is needed.

I had something stuck in my esophagus. I called my doctor’s office to ask for assistance. I was told I needed to have my esophagus scoped; go to the ER. Because I presented with heart burn, – after all I had something stuck for hours in my throat – they followed procedures and were going to do an EKG. I was vocal and refused the procedure. Next they wanted to do some blood work. I also put a hold on that procedure. I did finally receive the services I came for and a bill of $4,500. I can’t imagine the cost if I had let them proceed unfettered.

Sign Up For Special Health Programs

You may get extra cash or discounts on your premiums for taking a health risk assessment or participating in a tobacco-cessation program. Employers are moving towards motivating employees to be healthier. Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed employers and found more than half offer special disease management programs others may provide a work-out room within their building or pay a set amount towards a gym membership.

A healthy employee is an asset to an employer. They miss fewer days and can be more productive on the job. Costs of insurance are determined by claims. Individuals behavior can make a difference in some health costs. Employers are trying to incentivize them.

How to Cut Health Care Costs

Cost of health care can prove to be an elephant issue causing devastation in many a household. Even with grim reality of escalating costs of health, there is hope. You can learn how to get the most with what you have and cut care costs dramatically. With the following tips, the burden will lessen and you can look forward to a brighter and healthy future.

Pay in cash
Many health care facilities have recorded losing a lot of money due to bills that were unpaid and in many cases high fees of processing credit cards. For this reason, a patient who is able to pay upfront in cash can get incentives and even discounts. In fact, paying in cash can land you on a 10 per cent discount. This is a great strategy that is sure to reduce your health care bill.

Ask for a deal
Many people never take time to negotiate price with their health care provider. The truth is that if you take time to ask for a deal, you might get it. Many experts are looking to retain loyal customers since there are so many health care facilities and for this reason, many doctors with health care facilities will adjust their prices to suit their patients.

Ensure bill accuracy
Many people who receive their medical bill never look at the details. According to research, there are many errors that occur and can increase the bill by a significant amount. Therefore, be keen and make sure that the bills are as per the agreement of the health care cost.

Buy generics

There is still a huge chunk of people who still believe that generics are all harmful. Legitimate generics are made in the image of brand name drugs. They will cost you much less and will greatly play a part in easing your burden accordingly.

Avoid sickness
Since prevention is better than cure, improve on your food choices and cut bad habits like smoking. Also, employ exercises and this will go a long way to keep away common health problems that may come. It has to be a choice for a healthy lifestyle which will in the long term reduce your health care costs.

Take in plenty of water and embrace green vegetables and stay away from refined flour and sugars. These simple changes can be the difference between life and death and prevention measures in care is definitely the way to go for all people all over the world.