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If you have recently been to your doctor’s office or had a medical scan or treatment, you know the cost of healthcare in the United States only keeps rising.
Sadly, many people just accept the fact of higher prices and don’t do anything about it.
But there are many simple things you can do to lower medical costs.
In this post, I am sharing with you the best ways to save money on healthcare costs.
These are things that anyone can do.
And while healthcare and health insurance is complicated, many of these ideas aren’t.
You can quickly and easily do most of these in less than an hour.
Of course, there are some that will take you longer.
But you should still consider them, as they can help you to save thousands of dollars on medical care.
19 Ways To Save Money On Healthcare Costs
#1. Take Care Of Your Health
Hands down the most important and easiest thing you can do to save money on health costs is to take care of yourself.
This means eating better than you probably are now.
You don’t have to give up the pleasure foods you love like pizza, ice cream, and French fries.
Just cut back a little bit.
Instead of having pizza twice a week, reduce it to once a week or every other week.
It’s not that hard.
Take me for example.
I love to drink soda. It’s my favorite beverage.
I used to drink 2 a day.
But now I drink maybe one a week.
At first, it was disappointing to drink water with my meals but I quickly got over it.
I look at my schedule and plan out when I am going to drink my soda.
Usually it is when we get a pizza for dinner on a Friday night.
In addition to limiting the bad foods, you need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Take your time and be open to trying new foods.
Eventually you will find some you like.
Finally, start being more active.
Lift weights and do cardiovascular exercises.
Find what you love to do.
If you enjoy riding bike, get a spin bike so you can ride in your house a few times a week.
Even if you only walk, go for a brisk 20 minute walk every day.
Not only will it improve your health, it will also help you deal with stress too.
The reason this is the most important step in lowering your costs is because the better health you are in, the less likely you will have to have surgery or go on medications.
Not just now, but in the future as well.
This alone will save you tens of thousands of dollars during your lifetime.
#2. Get Your Annual Checkups
Another way to cut the lower the cost of healthcare is to get your annual checkups.
This means your annual physical, annual eye exam, dental checkup twice a year, and dermatologist checkup annually.
In most cases, you will owe the small co-pay amount on your insurance.
In other cases, your insurance will cover the bill 100% since it is a routine checkup.
Either way, getting checked out catches things early.
And the early you catch something, the greater the chance you have of getting it fixed before it turns into something much worse.
Take your cholesterol for example.
The sooner you know about high cholesterol or other potential ailments, the sooner you can take corrective action now and save money in the long run.
Finally, in the event you think something is wrong with you, go to the doctor.
We tend to put it off as just a sore leg or just a rash.
While many times this is the case, in some instances, it is something more serious.
If you catch it early, you can save thousands by not letting it get worse.
#3. Pick The Right Health Insurance Plan
Healthcare plans come in all shapes and sizes.
The most popular ones are HMO and PPO plans.
These are your traditional insurance plans where you pay a monthly premium using pretax dollars through your employment payroll.
Then you have a deductible you need to pay when you have doctor visits, get treatment or procedures.
Another option is a high-deductible health plan.
These plans have a much higher deductible compared to an HMO or PPO.
However they also tend to have lower health insurance premiums.
This is because more of the risk is shifted to you.
In other words, you will be paying for more of your health care costs, so you pay less in premiums.
- Read now: Learn why a high deductible plan is the best option for you
- Read now: Find out the pros and cons of health share plans
So which plan type would work best for you?
This depends on many factors.
The biggest however is how healthy you are.
If you are young and healthy and rarely visit the doctor other than annual exams, an HSA is probably the better option.
Not only are your premiums lower, but you can have an amount from your paycheck deducted and placed into a health savings account for you.
Then when you do have healthcare expenses, you have money saved to pay for them.
The added benefit here is your money is never taxed, saving you even more.
While this step will take you some more time to figure out the right plan for you, it is worth your time as you can save a serious amount of money by choosing the right plan.
#4. Use Flexible Spending Accounts
If you opt for an HMO or PPO plan, it makes sense to look into a flexible spending account or FSA.
This account allows you to take money from your paycheck and put towards medical bills and qualified medical expenses for the year.
At its most basic, it’s a way for you to save and pay for medical visits during the upcoming year.
The only catch with FSA accounts you have to use the money in the same calendar year or you lose it.
So make sure you only save the amount you know you are going to spend.
For example, when I had a PPO plan, I opened an FSA and put $200 in it.
This would cover my annual physical with my doctor, my dental appointments, and my eye exam.
#5. Know Your Benefits
Another way to keep costs low is to know your plan in detail.
Understand what is covered and what is not.
Know when the plan year begins and ends so you can have medical treatment at a time when insurance will cover most of the bill.
Additionally, see what other benefits your plan offers.
I had a plan that paid for a new bike helmet every year for me. I bought the helmet and submitted the receipt and got a check in the mail.
It also paid for some of my gym membership.
Many plans now offer this benefit, so it is critical you understand your plan.
#6. Stay In Network As Much As Possible
To save the most money on health care, you need to see healthcare providers who accept your insurance company’s plan.
This is known as in-network coverage.
If you see medical providers outside of your network, chances are you will pay more out of pocket for any services they provide, including visits.
A quick visit to your insurers website will allow you to search for in-network doctors and specialists in your area.
#7. Seek Treatment At Outpatient Centers
When possible seek treatment at outpatient centers first.
Outpatient clinics typically charge less than hospitals and often times require no preauthorization.
So if your doctor wants a medical procedure or scan, ask if there are any outpatient centers that you could go to instead of the hospital as you will save a lot of money.
#8. Avoid The Emergency Room
If you get sick or injured outside of normal doctor hours, you might think to head to the emergency room.
In the past, this was your only option.
But now there are urgent care centers all over the place and you should opt for this first.
The biggest reason is cost.
Emergency room visits are extremely costly and many health insurance plans have started to limit how much they will cover and if they even will cover the visit at all for a non-emergency.
So take a few minutes to find some urgent care clinics in your area and verify they accept your insurance.
That way, when it comes time to visit one, you know the one to go to.
#9. Consider Retail Health Clinics
An overlooked way to keep health insurance costs low is to find retail health clinics.
These are in-store clinics that provide basic services.
You typically will find these inside grocery stores.
The price you pay for a visit will be even less than an urgent care center and you will receive the same service.
Just do your homework to know which ones accept your insurance ahead of time.
#10. Take Advantage Of Telehealth
Telemedicine has become increasingly popular over recent years.
Most people don’t realize many insurance providers offer telehealth services.
This helps to not only keep costs down, but is easier to see a doctor when you have a busy schedule or have kids who are sick.
The convenience of not having to travel to and wait in a doctor’s office is priceless.
Most telehealth calls are done over Skype or Zoom and are high quality.
#11. Keep The Cost Of Prescription Drugs Low
Generic drugs can help lower prescription drug prices by up to 50% or more.
When your doctor prescribes brand-name drugs for you, your first question to ask is if there is a generic version.
Understand however, sometimes generic prescription medications aren’t always covered under your insurance policy.
Make sure you read through your benefits carefully before filling prescriptions.
In the event there is no generic alternative or your insurance plan doesn’t cover generics, there are other options for you.
First, you can ask for a longer supply.
By getting a 90 day prescription vs. a 30 day prescription you can save 20% or more.
Another option is asking for a higher dose medication and cutting the pills.
For example, if your doctor prescribes 5mg daily, you can get 10mg pills and cut them in half.
Some doctors will not do this as there is a risk of not taking the amount you need.
#12. Ask For Free Samples
Another option for you is to take advantage of free samples.
Many times a doctor will have samples of name brand drugs they can give you.
It won’t replace a 30 day supply, but could offer you 5 days worth of medication.
This recently happened to my Dad.
He needed eye drops that cost $400 for a bottle.
The doctor had a smaller sample bottle that he gave my Dad and told him he would try to get more samples.
#13. Use Your Insurers Website
Most insurance websites now allow you to compare prices at in-network providers.
This saves you the hassle and time of calling each one and getting prices.
Also, insurance websites will lay out how close you are at meeting your deductible and if any coinsurance charge will be required.
As a result, it makes sense to spend an afternoon visiting your providers website to see how it can help you.
#14. Review Your Medical Bills
There are many errors on medical bills.
In fact, studies show that up to 40% of the bills you get have errors on them.
If you get a bill in the mail for a procedure, it is worth your time to look it over and call your insurance provider.
Many times there is an error in the coding of the service or procedure which makes it more costly to you.
Even if you aren’t sure, it makes sense to review and call about the bills you get in the mail.
#15. Know The Costs Beforehand And Negotiate
Even before you get treatment, you should ask how much it is going to cost you.
Most providers will be able to offer you the cost.
Once you know the cost, your next question should be is there are any discounts you can get.
A popular one is to pay in cash.
If you are willing to pay for treatment in cash, the hospital or clinic could knock off 5-10% from the bill.
At worst, they say they can’t lower the cost but they might be able to put you on an interest free payment plan.
#16. Appeal Denied Claims
If you get treatment and your insurance company denies the claim, appeal it.
You should appeal everything for the same reasons stated above about errors on the bill.
A simple coding error could result in medical services being covered vs. not covered.
It’s easy to appeal and in some cases, you will get the bill forgiven as the procedure is covered.
#17. Get A Second Opinion
Whenever your doctor recommends treatment, don’t assume they know best.
It is in your best interest to get a second opinion.
Of course, you don’t need to do this when you have the flu or other basic ailments.
Rather you should get a second opinion when the recommendation is a costly procedure.
You never know what another doctor might suggest.
They may suggest alternative treatment options that will cost less money.
#18. Apply For Assistance
If you are low income family or individual, you should apply for assistance.
This can come in many forms.
One form is Medicaid.
Medicaid covers most people who qualify.
Another option is Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP) that states offer to residents to help cover children.
If you have trouble with your medical bills, don’t forget about the option of negotiating your bills with the hospital or clinic.
Alternatively, you can see if they can set you up on a payment plan to make it easier to afford the treatment you need.
#19. Consider Treatment Abroad
Finally, you should consider treatment abroad.
Many health insurance plans will not cover treatment overseas but you can save thousands going this route.
In other countries, they may offer a better alternative that is acceptable treatment which is not offered or approved of in the United States.
Just make sure the country you are going to for treatment is well known for the type of treatment you are seeking and has a good track record with patients.
The only factor you take into account shouldn’t be saving money.
You need to weigh all the benefits and drawbacks of going overseas for treatment.
At the end of the day, you can save money on health care costs.
You just have to take some time to figure out the best ways for you.
By simply living a healthier lifestyle, you can slash future costs of medical treatment by tens of thousands of dollars.
And the other tips offered will help you lower the cost of health care today.
Don’t simply accept the price of health care.
Do the work and you can save yourself a lot of money.