It should go without saying that we all care deeply about the health of our family. However, given the way that our health care system goes, it can feel like you’re letting everyone down if you can’t afford the quality of care that you want for them. However, while you can’t make it cheap, you can make health care more affordable by learning how to better fight the continuously rising costs. Here are a few tips that can ensure you’re giving your health care the careful cost-cutting eye that it needs.
IS ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO YOU?
You may not have to pay the full costs of your own health care, of course. Right now, the most common form of health care financial assistance is Medicare. Medicare Plan G has the most comprehensive coverage and benefits of all of the Medicare Supplement plans. Take the time to look up and see if any of the existing Medicare packages apply to you if you can’t cover the costs of private insurance for the family by yourself. However, if you’re experiencing chronic illness or some form of disability, Social Security is the other form of financial assistance that you might need. Just be warned that if you are going to try and apply for Social Security, you might need legal help in making your claim if not’s a clear-cut case.
BEWARE CHARGES THAT SHOULD NOT BE THERE
Cases of being over-billed and over-charged are a lot more common than you might think. For that reason alone, it’s always a good idea to take the time to look over the bill and make sure that everything there is appropriate. First of all, ask your health care provider for an itemized bill that will help you see exactly how much you’re getting charged for every bit of your visit or stay. If you see clerical errors such as wrong insurance or personal information, this can also end up increasing the costs of care so be ready to challenge anything like that.
CONSIDER PAYING IN CASH
It’s not a tip that is always applicable, but if you have heard about the rumors that you can pay health care providers in cash to get a discount, it is worth knowing that it is true. First of all, however, you have to make sure that you’re actually finding a practice that accepts cash, be it a regular practice that also accepts it or one that is cash-only as MoneyCrashers shows. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that doctors might not take cash if they know you do have insurance already, which can put you in a tricky situation where it might cost less to omit parts of the truth, though this isn’t recommended.
MAKE USE OF SAVINGS ACCOUNTS THAT CAN HELP
Saving up cash for your future hospital visits may not always be easy, but it’s a good way to make sure that you’re somewhat protected against the costs of any treatments that you and your family might need. However, if you’re saving up, then make sure you’re doing it with an account that helps you get the most out of your money. Health Savings Accounts are a special kind of savings account for those saving money for health care costs. Their primary advantage is that they are totally tax-free. However, in exchange for this benefit, the funds in an HSA can only be withdrawn for medical costs. They can’t be used for anything else.
BE THOROUGH IN SCANNING THE HEALTH INSURANCE MARKET
If you’re the kind of person who simply took the first offer that looked good when it came to getting your family coverage, that’s not a terrible thing. We all want to get our loved ones covered to make sure we’re protected against an emergency. However, if you have the opportunity, now is the time to look at seeing if there are better offers out there. There are providers of affordable health insurance with TrueCoverage that might only be found online, for instance, as well as brokers who can help you navigate your options and select the best fit for you. Rarely does loyalty reward insurance customers, so don’t be afraid to switch deals when possible and if you find a better one than what you’re currently on.
KNOW WHERE TO SEEK THE PAY THAT YOU NEED
You may have heard cases of individuals who would skip going to the ER, even in a genuine emergency, because it would cost more to see a doctor in their regular hours. While it’s not recommended that you do anything quite so drastic, there is wisdom in taking the time to think about which medical professionals are really the best ones to see in your particular situation. For instance, options such as urgent care centers and outpatient surgery centers can sometimes be more affordable than a trip to the hospital. If you’re looking for a simple consultation, you might want to look online at telemedicine providers as well, as they can often be less expensive.
DECREASE YOUR CHANCES OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
Some of the focus of keeping costs down has to fall on how you and your family manage your own health. If there are people in your household that already experience some form of chronic illness, then doing what you can to manage them is crucial. Otherwise, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy food options, getting active more often, hydrating, spending time outdoors, and so on. These factors all play a genuine role in decreasing the risk of chronic illness and cannot be handwaved away so easily. The lower the chance of chronic illness, the less likely you are to have to start paying for it.
KNOW YOUR NETWORK
Aside from finding the right providers for the kind of care that you need, you also need to make sure that those providers are also part of your insurance networks. Not all insurance companies require you to stay within their network, but a lot of them do. If your insurance provider has a network of health care providers, you might not get the coverage you expect if you go outside of your network for treatment. When looking at local practices and clinics, be sure to look at whether or not they have any market affiliations, and if you see your insurance provider is there. Otherwise, call up a representative from your insurance provider and ask them if they have a network and who in your area falls within it.
THE QUESTION OF GENERIC MEDICATION
When it comes to buying medication, there’s a good reason to not want to skimp out on paying for the medication that you need. The sooner you get better, the sooner you stop paying for treatment, and a lot of people assume that paying more is going to help them get better health outcomes all the sooner. However, in a lot of cases, generic medication is just as effective as brand-name stuff. They are required by law to have the same primary ingredients. We say a lot of cases because there are some medications that have the same primary ingredients, but different delivery systems that can make the brand name types more effective. Do your research on the specific medication you have to take and see how the generic types change it. Be sure to ask your doctor about the differences between generic and brand names, too.
DOES HAGGLING WORK?
It might seem like medical costs are set in stone, but the truth is that you might actually have some room to negotiate even if you’re not dealing with an issue like an incorrect bill. The first thing you should do is do your research when you know you’re going to have to pay for treatment. By finding out the prices for that treatment as offered by other providers, you can discover how much of a discount your insurer would receive from that treatment, you can get informed as to the real average cost of the treatment. You can then ask your doctor if they would be willing to get closer to this price.
CONSIDER A PAYMENT PLAN
If you’re not using insurance to pay for a treatment, you might think that cash is your only option. However, you might want to look for a clinic or doctor that has payment plans available for their patients. As the name suggests, these are plans that allow you to pay the overall cost of the treatment in multiple installments over time. The overall total cost will be higher as you’re paying to have them delay the payment, essentially, but it can help those who don’t have the cash they need immediately.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to keeping the costs of health care down. You need to be diligent, you need to be ready to jump into research and you need to be committed to keeping the family as healthy as possible. It’s a lot, but it’s crucial to ensure you can afford to pay for the care of the family.