9 Tips On Reducing Your Health Care Costs

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Health care costs are rising, and many people are feeling the pinch when it comes to paying their medical bills. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce your health care costs. Try these tips to ensure that you’re not overspending on health care.

Use Preventative Services

Find out which preventative services your health insurance covers and take advantage of them. Even if you feel totally fine, you could be suffering from health problems without even knowing it. More importantly, you can find out if you’re at risk for certain costly health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis. Many preventative services are offered under major health insurance plans and even if there’s a small co-pay it could be well worth it to you in the long run.

Buy Generic Prescriptions

What if your insurance won’t cover the cost of your prescriptions? You can often get a much more affordable drug if you look for the generic brands instead of the big-name brands. In many cases, these drugs are practically identical and will offer you the same benefits at a fraction of the price of the big-name prescriptions. Speak to your pharmacist to make sure that a switch to an off-brand drug won’t negatively affect your health or result in any unforeseen side effects.

Go To Doctors In Your Network

Insurance companies almost always have a list of doctors and hospitals which are in their network. Going to these health care providers will save you a lot of money compared to going to ones which are not in your insurance’s network. Always check with your insurance company to make sure a doctor or hospital is in your network before going there. In addition, it’s good to know which hospital in your insurance’s network is closest to your home and your work. If there is an emergency, it’s also good to know which hospital you’d prefer to go to if possible.

Use ERs Only For Emergencies

There are obviously certain situations in which a trip to the ER is absolutely necessary. But in cases where you could possibly wait until the next day to see a doctor or go to a local ambulatory care center or walk-in clinic instead, you should always choose to do so. ER costs are often astronomical compared to a visit to a doctor or a clinic. Check with your doctor to find out if they have an off-hours emergency line. You may be able to get input from them if you’re having trouble deciding whether to go to the ER or not.

Always Ask About Procedures

Many times, doctors will recommend tests and procedures in the best interests of your health even if they are not necessary. It’s important to find out whether a treatment or test is required and what would happen if you opted out of them. A single MRI can be a very expensive procedure even if you have health insurance so always make sure it’s necessary before undergoing expensive treatments or tests. In some cases, a doctor may offer different options that are more suited to your finances.

Keep Good Records

Always keep track of your medical bills over the course of the year. Come tax time, you may be eligible for some tax breaks depending on your situation. It’s not just hospitable bills that you need to keep either. Many other bills and health care expenses may qualify including x-rays, physical therapy, eye glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and psychiatric care. If you’ve never received a deduction for health care costs before, you may want to consult a tax professional before adding these items to your tax returns. (For help choosing a tax professional, see How To Select The Best Income Tax Preparer.)

Have Your Records Transferred

If you move or decide to start visiting a new doctor, make sure your previous doctors will transfer your medical records over to your new one. This can save you a lot of money since it usually eliminates the need for the new doctor to perform tests to assess your current health. Having your past records may also help them diagnose you faster without having to perform more tests or procedures. For example, dental x-rays are very costly so having your old ones transferred over can save you a bundle.

Only Buy OTC Drugs When Necessary

Many people rely heavily on over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Though these drugs seem inexpensive and convenient compared to a doctor’s visit or prescription drug, the costs can quickly add up if they are overused. For example, if you have chronic headaches and constantly take Tylenol or Advil, you’re spending a lot to treat a symptom without finding the underlying cause. The same goes for colds and allergies. OTC drugs won’t cure these conditions, they just ease the symptoms.

Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health

Many people underestimate the impact that their mental health can have on their life. If you feel that you may be suffering from depression, anxiety or any other psychological issues, see your doctor as soon as possible. Taking care of these issues can save you a lot in the long run since those problems could lead to issues at work, in your marriage, etc. In many cases, your family doctor can prescribe mood stabilizers so that you don’t have to pay the cost of visiting a psychiatrist. Of course, if this doesn’t seem to help with your symptoms, it’s worth it to see a psychiatrist about these issues.

The next time you experience a health issue, think before you act. Taking time to do a little research, talking to your doctor or consulting your health insurance company before getting treatment could save you a lot of money in the long run.

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