What has traditionally been a daily annoyance but a fairly expected expense for the majority of people in the country has now become a major talking point that can get tempers on all sides rising. If you’re finding it tough to deal with the rising costs of health care, what are your options to get them back under control? Here are a few tips that are worth looking at a little more closely.
Can you really pay less by paying in cash?
You might have heard about something along the lines of a “cash discount” that doctors will offer when giving treatment, and it isn’t necessarily untrue. There are some doctors that will let you pay by cash and let you pay less when you do. However, there are a few points that need to be made clear, such as the fact that it isn’t as common as you might like. Many doctors will refuse cash offers if, for instance, they know that you have insurance at the ready. There are cash-only practices as shown at Healthline that you can explore, however.
See if you can apply for financial assistance
Not everyone has to pay the full costs of their own health care. Though it is still considered a form of health insurance, Medicare is currently the most widely used form of financial assistance for health care. There is a wide range of packages available on Medicare that can cover the costs that would normally be paid on private insurance. There is also social security, which is a form of benefit that can help those who are coping with the costs of paying for treatment during ongoing chronic illness or disability, most often when it puts them out of work. However, applying for social security can be a difficult legal process that might necessitate the need of some help.
Preventing chronic disease
Of course, there is no way to prevent every illness that comes your way and even living a healthy lifestyle cannot prevent all chronic diseases. There are a lot of risk factors, including genetic, environmental, and otherwise, that can all contribute to your chances of having to live with and treat chronic disease. However, when it comes to some of the most common of all, such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and obesity, then these can all be largely prevented with lifestyle changes, such as exercise, a good diet, a healthy sleeping pattern and more. It may not seem like the most helpful advice, but following these health tips can play a real role in decreasing your long-term health care costs by preventing some of the most common chronic illnesses.
Choose the insurance package that’s right for you
A lot of people tend to rush their first decision when they choose a health care provider. You want to make sure that you and your family are provided for, so you might not want to scan the market for too long before securing things. That said, there is often little benefit to remaining loyal to an insurance company, especially when you can get the same kind of coverage from other providers for less. In fact, often there are real financial incentives to join a different provider as a new customer. For that reason, look at options like health insurance from TrueCoverage and how they compare to your current providers. If they make a better offer, then you should consider taking it seriously.
Stay in-network when you can
The way that insurance networks work can be a point of some contention, with some arguing that it allows insurance providers too much control over the quality of care that their patients are allowed. That said, however, even if your insurance provider doesn’t force you to stay within the network, there are often financial incentives to doing so. If you’re not certain about whether you are currently in-network, you should check that your provider has a network and, if so, that any doctors, clinics, hospitals, or other care providers you use are part of that network. Otherwise, you could be accidentally paying for more than you should be. Changing your practice could result in real savings.
Beware those bills
One aspect of rising health care costs that have been becoming more and more frequent news as of late is the billing errors and willful over-billing that take place all throughout the system. Overcharging is a lot more common than was previously considered, with all manner of errors that could result in you being charged more, such as clerical errors, the wrong insurance information being added, duplicate charges, charges for services that were never delivered, and more. Sites like Sofi provide details on ways to read your medical bills and be better able to check it for erroneous entries and mistakes that could otherwise in you paying more.
Mind where you go
When you decide that you are going to go for a diagnosis or a treatment, then you should think carefully about where you go for it, as this decision can affect how much you’re likely to pay for it. Sometimes, going to your regular doctor and regular practice can cost you more than you might think. Instead, you might want to consider the potential of visiting outpatient surgery centers, urgent care centers, or convenience care centers. Telemedicine is becoming a much more commonly available option, as well, with options like Your Doctors Online. Some doctors may charge less for appointments if you’re willing to do it over the internet with a webcam. Of course, this isn’t always going to be the best option if, for instance, you need to be physically examined, so take care to choose the option that best suits your needs.
Make use of the savings tools available to you
Have you ever had to reach into your own savings in order to pay for treatment in the past? Moreover, have you set aside savings that are specifically for your health care costs? If you have, but you’re not making use of health savings accounts, then you could be practically wasting money. Savings accounts are normally taxed, but HSAs are specifically designed accounts that do not get taxed. The only caveat is that these accounts can only be used specifically in paying for health care costs.
Should you go generic with your medication?
It’s only natural that you don’t want to go cheap when it comes to the medication that you buy. After all, medicine isn’t the kind of thing that you want in a “lower quality,” since you don’t know how that might affect your treatment. However, in a lot of cases, you can get precisely the same medication at wildly different price points, depending on which brand you go with. This is because all medications of the same type have to have precisely the same measurements of their primary ingredients in them. 500mg paracetamol tablets are always going to have 500mg paracetamol in them. However, there are some medications in which the primary ingredients aren’t the only thing to consider, as the specific delivery system might make them more effective. Talk to your doctor about the difference between branded and generic when it comes to the specific medications you take.
Saving of medication costs no matter the case
Even if you decide to go with branded medication, you might find that their costs can change wildly depending on where you buy them. Different pharmacies can carry precisely the same medications but with cost differentials up to ten times as much as the cheapest option available. Cost and availability trackers like Pharmacy Checker can help you get an idea of where you can get the best deals on medication near you. Usually, if you’re willing to buy online, you can make some pretty substantial savings.
Can you negotiate your bills down?
If you’re simply not able to afford your treatments at the price that you have billed, then you can always try using the gift of the gab to see if you can negotiate your way down from the price that you’re at. Doing a little research, you can get to know the price of treatments from a range of providers, allowing you to compare those costs with your own. Talk to the doctor or care provider rather than the insurance company, since they stand to have their losses covered by the discount the insurance providers will give them. For the best results, you want to try negotiating before you receive treatment rather than after. Even if you can’t get them to cut the price, you might be able to get them to put it on a payment plan to make it more affordable.
The above tips won’t be able to save you from all of the costs of health care. However, they can make it more manageable. The truth is that the biggest difference of all can only be made possible by changing the health care system we live in. Unless we push for more affordable or even free health care, we’re likely to see costs continue to skyrocket.