It feels strange to write an article about how to save money on healthcare costs when my own family has unexpectedly paid out so much towards medical expenses this year. Since my husband became ill last October we’ve had medical visits and diagnostic labs that weren’t an expected part of our budget.
Along the way, we’ve learned a couple of lessons about medical costs that will help anyone looking to save money on healthcare expenses.
1. Choose Health Insurance Carefully
Get the best bang for your buck! If you’re self-employed you’ll want to carefully consider how much you’re willing to pay out for medical expenses. Let’s say that you’re in good health, have a large emergency savings, and want to self-insure. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a high- deductible plan.
Using a high deductible plan if you have good health is one of the biggest ways to save money on healthcare. Be warned; if you choose that option it is imperative that your savings can handle the hit from a medical emergency. Most families will do best with a middle of the road plan that involves a medium-sized deductible and a small to medium copay per visit.
Check out eHealthInsurance.com for a quick and easy health insurance quote. eHealth partners with top insurance providers to give you a wide variety of choices, including information regarding your options under the Affordable Care Act. You also can find a good health, dental, or vision plan for your family. They offer plans for businesses too.
2. Create an Emergency Savings Buffer
Even though we incurred more medical expenses than we had expected, those bills didn’t make a dent in our financial plans. That’s because we had our emergency savings in place from sticking to a budget.
3. Choose Providers and Labs That are in-network
It’s a smart move to call ahead and price out procedures! Our insurance offers a decent selection of in-network physicians in the area. We chose to have several initial visits with our out-of-network family physician and also some appointments and blood draw with my personal in-network nurse practitioner. All of the lab work was completed in-network, which greatly reduced the cost. We considered a more expensive blood test before ultimately deciding it wasn’t worth the price tag.
Don’t succumb to time pressure. You don’t have to do any blood work at your appointment. Instead, you can always price the lab work at home & make a decision when you’re not sitting around in a paper gown 😉
4. Consider seeing a PA or an ANP to Save Money on Healthcare
Although my husband’s care was under the oversight of our amazing family physician, he also saw a physician’s assistant (PA) and an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP). Let me tell you, those bills from the PA and the ANP were significantly less. The physician’s assistant was a younger gal who took on my husband as a pet project. You could tell she was spending a lot of time doing research about his condition. I would highly recommend searching out these alternative caregivers.
Here are some other ideas for how to save money on healthcare costs:
- Try an alternative source for glasses. We’ve used Zenni Optical and are very happy with their service. They are hands-down the best place to get glasses for those of us that need high-powered prescriptions. My last pair from the optometrist cost $300, but my pair from Zenni was only $60!! Glasses start as low as $6.95.
- Use generics for prescriptions and medical supplies. It might seem silly, but even little things like choosing generic bandages and antibiotic ointment can add up to help save money on healthcare charges. Junior won’t notice that his scraped knee is covered by a no-name cartoon character instead of the latest and greatest action hero!
- Shop around. In our neck of the woods, WalMart is the cheapest place to get prescriptions locally. We use a mail-order pharmacy to get free generics through Caremark. Your insurance might have a mail-order option too.
What are your tips for how to save money on healthcare expenses?
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This article was shared at Thrifty Thursday, SHINE, Frugal Friday & these fine websites.