The state of health care is enough to make anyone sick – especially when you receive your bill.
While the battle over health reform continues, peek at the quick video below.
- The video shares 5 tips for saving money on health care
- Additional information follows the video
Thank you for your patience while I play with video creations.
Saving Money on Health Care
Health reform supporters on all sides of the debate can agree on one thing. Health care is expensive.
No matter how healthy you are, chances are you will need health care at some point. You probably fall into one of the following categories.
- You have health coverage through an employer or government program
- Your coverage is through health insurance you purchased
- You have no health insurance
Whatever scenario applies to your situation, you have options for keeping more money in your pocket for health care expenses.
#1 – Go generic
Generic prescriptions are so ingrained in health care, you may not know you take one. However, asking if there is a generic alternative to an expensive brand-name drug makes good cents.
- Brand-name drugs have a trade name and are protected by a patent (only the company with the patent can manufacture and produce the drug)
- Generic drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) must have the same active ingredients, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand name drug
- The FDA reports nearly 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs and the average cost of a generic is 80% – 85% less than its brand-name counterpart
Talk to your doctor. He or she will know if there is a less expensive generic alternative that is appropriate for your care.
- Sometimes there is no generic alternative to the brand-name drug
- It is possible that the generic alternative will not work for you
- Typically, you have lower out-of-pocket costs for a generic – check your plan coverage
#2 – Use Urgent Care
Have you visited an emergency room? Was it a painful experience? I bet the pain came from more than your health condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ~
- Over 2/3 of emergency room visits exceed 15 minutes (and you know it’s a heck of lot longer)
- Only 9.3% of the visits result in a hospital admission
Scripps Health shared an infographic to help you decide between going to the emergency room versus urgent care.
#3 – Take your medication
Taking medication is a personal discussion between your physician and you. Review all your options. In certain cases, you may worsen your condition when you do not follow prescribed treatment. That could lead to more serious, and costly complications.
#4 – Use network providers
Most health plans include a network of health providers who have negotiated contracts with insurers. Generally, you have lower out-of-pocket costs and a higher level of benefits when you visit a network provider.
Sometimes figuring out if a provider is a network provider gets tricky. For example, just because your doctor is a network provider for XYZ insurance company does not mean he or she is a network provider for all XYZ health plans.
So, what can you do?
- Go online and click on the link that allows you to search for your doctor
- Be sure you have the EXACT name of your health plan
- Contact the provider’s office and ask to speak to those who handle insurance
Note: Don’t assume because they were a network provider in the past that they still are.
Look for plans that your doctor participates in. Or if you don’t have a regular physician, select one from the network providers.
If you ever received a bill from a non-network provider, you know how much it can hurt.
#5 – Try telehealth (telemedicine)
Are you familiar with telehealth? Nearly all large employers (96%) plan on offering telehealth services in 2018. Industry experts report over 1/3 of employers already offer the services. The problem is getting employees to use the services.
So, what is telehealth?
Telehealth (or telemedicine, as it is sometimes called) uses your technology communication devices to help you access health services. The following are a few examples.
- Phone consultations or video chat with your doctor
- Electronic sharing of diagnostic scans/x-rays
- Remote monitoring of patients
Originally, telehealth became popular for patients living in remote areas. It has slowly expanded into other areas. An increasing number of insurers cover the services.
- If you have coverage through your employer, check with your benefits department to see if they have a telehealth benefit
- If you purchase your own insurance, Top Ten Review put together this list of companies that provide services to individuals
Who knows what U.S. health care will look like in the future. In the meantime, we still get sick or have accidents. Hopefully, keeping a bit more money in our wallet will help the healing process.
Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care provider and cannot provide legal or health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and visit your physician for health care issues.