Everyone knows that health care can be expensive. Even if you have decent insurance, those trips to the doctor can add up quickly. Figure in some diagnostic testing and medication or two… well, you get the picture. Even with skyrocketing costs, it is possible for you, the patient, to save money on your health care, without cutting any corners. Below, I list 5 ways that you can save money on your healthcare costs. I hope you find them useful.
Use the internet (with care!) for medical advice
Google is your friend. The internet is full of great information about health problems. The most important thing is to know when you should seek medical care and when it is OK to stay home. some things like abdominal pain could be a range of conditions ranging from temporary ailments like heartburn or food poisoning, to serious conditions where delay can just cause more problems. Don’t be afraid to do some research on your condition, just take it all with a grain of salt and use your head! If you think it might be serious it is better to error on the side of caution and get it checked out by a professional. While skipping a few doctor’s visits will save you money, not going and then having your codition worsen will just lead to more doctors visits and higher medical bills. One good source of information on basic family medicine is The Family Doctor, a site maintained by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Remember to use reputable sites for your information. Sites maintained by professional organizations or doctors offices are always good bets.
Make the most out of every visit to the Doctors
Lets face it, going to see a doctor is expensive. So whenever you need to see your doctor it is best to be prepared for the visit. Things like having your symptoms all written down, with details like when each happened, and in what order can be very helpful for your doctor to accurately diagnose your condition. By writing all this important information down before hand you can be sure to have it all for your doctor when you go in for your visit. Often, especially with more complex symptoms, it can be easy to forget a minor detail about this or that. Seeing a doctor can be stressful for some people, and that stress can cause them to forget something about their ailment. What they forget, or the minor detail left out, could be just what your doctor needs to nail down a diagnosis. Often one of the most important tools available to doctors in their effort to obtain an accurate diagnosis is what you tell them. Making you you present the whole story in full detail can save you from unnecessary diagnostic poking and prodding, all of which costs more money.
This is one of the most important things you can do to help save yourself money at the doctors office, be it for infertility treatment, or at your family doc, is to ask questions. A lot of doctors are very busy, and they might recommend testing or prescriptions that are more expensive than necessary or fail to take the time to fully explain why the more expensive test is important. By simply asking them if the test is really required, you can get the pros and cons of the decision and use those to better analyze if you really need that test to be done. Often if you just mention that you are concerned with costs and ask if there are any less expensive options available, they will offer less expensive testing, or even say that the test is not 100% required… imagine that. Asking these questions of your doctor is very important to making sure you get the care you need and not the care you don’t. Besides, it is your health and you should be proactive!
Reduce unnecessary and duplicate testing
It is your health, you should be proactive enough to have personal copies of all your health records. When you switch doctors or see multiple specialists for different conditions it is important that each doctor has your complete medical record. Keeping and sharing your complete medical records can save you from repeated tests ordered by your new physician, or a test ordered by a specialist that you already had done last year and don’t need it repeated yet.
Primary care doctors
Having a good primary care doctor can save you money. Health care is confusing. Being bombared by adverts on television about this medication or that condition can fill patient’s heads with all kinds of ideas, and conflicting thoughts about whether they should be taking X or they need to get Y test done… Having a primary care doctor that you can go through to coordinate your care can be invaluable. They can act as stewards to your health and make sure you are getting the care you need and not anything more. They are your health experts. Use them as such.
Optimize your prescriptions
You can save money on your prescription medications by using a few simple tricks. First, and foremost, the most important thing you can do is to shop around. Price compare your medications between pharmacies. Medication prices can vary immensely, think 5x to 10x, from pharmacy to pharmacy. By calling around and talking to either the pharmacist or pharmacist tech, you should be able to get quotes over the phone. Make sure you have the medication name, strength, and quantity before you call or you could end up comparing apples to oranges. Next, if you are taking combo pills, medications with two or more active ingredients, you can often save a bundle by purchasing them separately. If you are not sure you are taking a combo pill, ask Google, or your doctor. Lastly, be sure to apply the tips above as well. If you have access to your medical records make sure you aren’t taking a medication that was ineffectual in the past. Also, ask you doctor if a generic version would be appropriate.
With a little common sense and being a proactive patient it is possible for you to save on your health care costs. Asking questions and shopping around can be powerful tools in your money saving arsenal.