CNBC reports that nearly 2 million Americans file bankruptcy annually as a result of unpaid medical bills. It’s not just the uninsured that are suffering. Nearly 10 million Americans with health insurance are still struggling to pay off their medical bills due to high-deductible insurance plans. Here are a few tips to help you save money on your medical bills.
1. Choose an in-network provider
If you have a PPO insurance plan, pick a doctor within your network for the biggest savings. Your cost will be significantly higher if you visit a doctor outside of your network. Most insurance plans will let you browse their list of in-network physicians online. Make a list of doctors you would like to visit ahead of time.
2. Write down your symptoms & questions
Jot down your symptoms and questions ahead of time on a piece of paper or on your smartphone. This will ensure that all your concerns will be addressed during the visit and help you get the most out of your time. It can also prevent future visits.
3. Join a medical trial
If you have a chronic illness, find out if there are any local clinical trials that you can partake in. Joining a trial may give you access to the latest medications and significantly lower your prescription and medical bills.
4. Comparison shop
Many health insurance plans pay a percentage of your medical fees but that doesn’t mean that all doctor’s offices will charge the same fee for a particular procedure. It’s perfectly fine to shop around and call various offices in order to find out how much they charge.
5. Partake in free screenings
Most insurance plans include annual free exams and numerous preventative screenings. Participating in these tests can help catch serious problems before they progress and save you money in the long run. Some pharmacies, such as Walgreens, also offer free health screenings including a cholesterol and diabetes assessment.
6. Call in for recurring issues
If you have a minor recurring issue like allergies or a pink eye, call the doctor’s office for a phone consultation instead of stopping by. You can also reorder a prescription without having to visit the office.
7. Perform tests for yourself
If you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or are diabetic, invest in a high blood pressure monitor or glucometer. This will enable you to monitor some of your own symptoms and take a proactive stance towards your own health care.
8. Opt for generic medications
Most generic medications are just as effective as their more expensive brand-name counterparts. Ask for the generic version if it’s available. Providence reports that patients are more likely to use generic drugs on a regular basis while brand name medications are more likely to be left untouched.
9. Research online
WebMD allows you to narrow down your symptoms and learn more about your current illnesses (if any). Gaining knowledge about your health condition will give you more insight when dealing with your doctor. DoctorSpring lets you ask a doctor questions online about your symptoms and even upload photos of your condition. This can be helpful if you have a medical question that’s not an emergency.
10. Ask for a discount
If you need a procedure performed that’s not covered by health insurance, ask your doctor for a discount. You’ll have a better chance of success if you ask your doctor instead of the office manager, who is more likely to decline. Forget about asking for a discount on your co-pay; you’re obligated to pay the full amount legally.
11. Ask for free samples
If your doctor prescribes a pricey brand name medication that you’ve never used before, ask for a free sample. Doctor’s often receive free samples from various prescription brands. You may end up with a supply that will last you a few weeks if not a month.