Health care costs can be a big part of one’s expenses. As one starts to get older, this becomes more and more apparent. Once additional dependents get in the picture, this becomes a category of expenses that merits much more examination.
While we might spend all kinds of time trying to save money at the grocery store, restaurants, and other places – what about spending some time trying to save on health care?
Well, here’s a list of things you can do that could help you with that. Below are 10 ways to lower health care costs:
- Choose generic drugs instead of brand name. Generic drugs are generally equivalent to branded drugs, with the same efficacy and side effect profiles. The difference: they’re often much cheaper.
- Use mail order for prescriptions. You can obtain multiple months of a prescription through the mail, for a discounted price. Though I’ve never had the reason to try it, I most certainly would if I had a chronic condition that required continual refills. Why pay more on a monthly basis?
- Ask for samples. Perhaps you can get a product sample that will help you get started on a particular therapy – thus saving you money in the process? This happens all the time. Why not ask?
- Utilize a flexible spending account (FSA). If you have the opportunity to take money, set it aside and not pay tax on it, why not do it? As long as it’s used for qualifying expenses, this one’s an easy choice. Make sure not to overestimate expenses, so you don’t lose what you set aside – or scramble at the last minute to use funds like I did last year.
- Stay within your network. Going out of network for doctor visits and for procedures can cost significantly more money. Take advantage of the lower prices that have been negotiated.
- Participate in wellness assessments. This may not be an option everywhere, but I once got involved in a wellness program through a past employer, and got a financial benefit. If offered, might as well take the opportunity for easy benefits.
- Review your bills thoroughly. Billing errors do happen. When they do, doesn’t it often seem like they’re in the favor of the entity doing the billing? Taking the time to scan through each bill can be a good use of time, particularly if you end up catching a mistake.
- Negotiate your bill. Ultimately, bills might be negotiable in some cases. A prior post I did on negotiating your medical bill illustrates how it could potentially be done. One way is to offer to pay up front, a lump sum that’s less than the full amount owed. They just might take it. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Remember, simply asking can in some cases help a person avoid potential money problems.
- Avoid the emergency room. OK, sometimes you just have to go the emergency room and there are no two ways about it. We all know that. However, there are other times where you just might have an alternative. An urgent care center can often provide fast care for some problems that occur, without an appointment, during business hours – and sometimes beyond. If your doctor doesn’t have an appointment for another week, and you need care, you could consider such centers. It beats the high cost of the ER!
- Make smart choices every day. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise, take care of your teeth, and make good choices every day. Lifestyle can play a big role in determining our health conditions, so it’s imperative to make smart decisions with the long-term in mind. One trick – picture yourself older and in poor health, as a direct result of today’s bad decisions. That tends to help motivate me and get me more disciplined, though I’m I work in progress!
My Questions For You:
Do you employ any of these strategies?
What other tips do you have for saving money on health care?