It goes without saying that medical expenses for many Americans are at an all-time high. Prescription costs are through the roof. Doctor visits and emergency room visits have gotten so expensive many who need healthcare aren’t using these services.
To make matters worse, insurance rates have risen dramatically over the last few years. The result is that, despite the promises of Obamacare, healthcare is now even less affordable than ever.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to solve all of these problems. Neither am I promising advice that will help you to get free medical care nor even cheap medical care. However, having worked in the health care industry for many years, I can offer some tips on how to save on your medical bills.
1. Call When You Can
There may be times when you don’t actually need to go see a medical provider in person if you are sick. Please note that I am not suggesting you diagnose yourself entirely and skip seeing a medical provider for all situations. You must be the judge of how sick you are.
But some people do tend to go to the doctor’s office or hospital emergency room for every little sniffle or ache. Each of these visits can add up and really eat away at your monthly budget.
As an alternative, perhaps you could call your medical provider’s office and talk to a nurse. Give them your symptoms and seek their advice as to whether or not a doctor’s visit is actually necessary. This could save you some money in the long run.
2. Know When Not to Wait
If on a Friday you suspect you have an illness that could require a prescription, don’t wait to call the doctor’s office. Often, if you think you can hold out until Monday you will end up in the emergency room over the weekend anyway.
Should that happen, you’ll end up with a bill that is somewhere between seven to ten times higher than if you had gone to the clinic on Friday instead.
3. Use Walk-in Services
Some clinics have walk-in hours on Saturday mornings. Ask if yours does ahead of time so you know for sure. If your clinic has them you can’t wait for a regular appointment, it should still be cheaper than a trip to the emergency room.
You might be able to save on your medical bills if you are willing to try to negotiate. Give your medical provider or hospital billing department a call to see if your bill could be lowered in some way.
For example, some hospitals will reduce the bill if you are willing to pay the balance in full by a certain date. Or, you might qualify to make payments or receive financial assistance.
5. Save Ahead
Another way to save on your medical bills is to save ahead for them. You may be able to set up a health savings account or a regular savings account specifically for medical care.
The advantage of a Health Savings Account is that the money you contribute is pre-tax. Check with your bank to find out all of the requirements before you set one up.
Of course, you can also set up your own savings account to be used as you need it. Or, ask if your employer has a flexible spending account for healthcare that you could contribute to each pay period.
All of these alternatives can help you save on your medical bills by avoiding interest, late fees, collection agency charges, or any number of other additional fees. Furthermore, a couple of them also save when tax time rolls around.
6. Shop Around
One of the ways some people choose to save when it comes to healthcare costs is to shop around. You might choose to go to a different medical provider or hospital entirely if the prices are lower.
A different option not everyone thinks of is to seek medical care from a different country altogether. There may be travel expenses associated with this choice too, obviously, but if the price is low enough it may be worth it.
In summary, we all know medical costs have skyrocketed in the last few years. But there are ways to save on your medical bills and keep your costs as low as possible if you look for them.
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What are some of the ways you have chosen to save on your medical bills?