Looking for smart strategies to reduce healthcare costs? I’ve got 5 healthcare cost hacks for you – both if you have insurance, or if you don’t.
Healthcare seems like one of those categories where you can’t save much money.
I mean, if your doctor recommends something, who are you to say “no”? You basically feel like you need to take the medicine, get the procedure, or get a second opinion.
And of course, you don’t want to skip out on anything your doctor recommends either; without health, life can get pretty miserable, pretty fast.
The thing is, you don’t have to pay what you’re paying for medical bills.
It’s a strange concept, and I would have been shaking my head at this article just a few years ago if I hadn’t set out to do my own price shopping for a hernia operation. The prices varied wildly – between $3,900 and $16,100 –and after that, I knew there were smart strategies for lowering my medical costs.
Healthcare Cost Hack #1: Use Your Preventative Maintenance “Free” Appointments
One of the changes to healthcare in the last few years has been the “free” (I put that in air quotes, as of course you only get these free because you are paying monthly health plan premiums) preventative care appointments almost everyone with health insurance is entitled to.
What hasn’t been talked about enough is how valuable these are. Think about it: if you’ve got some medical issues you need questions about, you should schedule a physical exam. You can then ask your questions for free as part of the overall exam.
Note: you might get some pushback if what you came in for needs a lot of attention. But a few simple questions? That’s totally reasonable.
Healthcare Cost Hack #2: Shop Around for Your Procedure
While researching that hernia operation article, I realized (from the reactions of people on the other end of the phone) that it’s not normal for a patient to price shop their surgery procedure.
Most of the people I spoke with said they never received phone calls like mine, asking what the price is going to be beforehand.
This is a problem!
I mean, we price shop lunch meats, oil changes, and gas prices…why wouldn’t we price shop for procedures that cost thousands upon thousands of out-of-pocket dollars?
One way to both shop around + get a lower price is by pre-paying for your procedure on MDsave.com. This is an especially attractive idea for people without health insurance, or people on high-deductible health plans – both of whom will have to pay out of pocket for their procedure costs.
MDsave pre-negotiates over 1,300+ procedures across 180 hospital/health systems and 2,000+ providers for you, then lets you search for the lowest costing provider. Average savings? A nice $345 per procedure.
You choose the provider you want, and then prepay for the procedure in one bundled price (meaning no surprises after the procedure – you know the price upfront).
You then receive scheduling instructions for your selected provider, and bring your purchase voucher to your appointment as proof of payment.
Whether or not this counts towards your deductible – if you’re on a health insurance plan – is up to your insurance provider.
Psst: MDsave has a $99 mammogram campaign coming up in October! That’s a great price, considering the estimated national average for a mammogram is around $462. Also, use promo code Frugal25 for a one-time $25 discount applied to orders of $250+. FYI, this cannot be combined with other offers or redeemed for cash. Offer subject to change without notice.
Healthcare Cost Hack #3: Look into Your Health Insurer’s Wellness Program
Employers and health insurance companies are no fools; they know that if they can get their clients (that’s you and me) to lead healthier lives, then the amount they pay out for procedures and other medical costs will go down.
This has led many employers and health insurance companies to provide wellness programs that are free to use.
For example, our health insurance company is Cigna. Through my husband’s employer and in partnership with Cigna, we have a wellness program where we get a $50 gift card for each preventative checkup appointment we do throughout the year, up to a total of $250! You can bet we’re both getting our annual physicals + dental cleanings + well-woman visits (although, to be fair, we usually get these each year anyway). So far, we’ve collectively earned $350.
We also get rewarded financially for completing health webinars with quizzes, and tracking things like our water intake.
Does your employer have a wellness program, and what sorts of perks are they giving out? It could help offset your medical bills throughout the year.
Healthcare Cost Hack #4: Have Your Doctor Help You Save Money
Once we received a prescription from a dermatologist that turned out to be $400 out of pocket expense. That made us do a double-take!
Instead of paying that huge price, we simply called our doctor and explained to her that we would have to pay a huge amount. We asked if there was a cheaper alternative. In fact, there was! She re-prescribed something (that ended up working), at a cost of $168 to us. Just by asking our doctor to help us save money we kept $232 in our pockets.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you end up in a position where what they prescribed is going to be a huge expense. You never know what else they could do that will get you the same result, but at a cheaper price.
Healthcare Cost Hack #5: Call to Ensure all Hospital Doctors are In-Network
This one caught us off-guard, as it does many people.
It turns out that if you go to a hospital that is in your health care plan’s network (known as in-network), you could still end up seeing a doctor, anesthesiologist, or other personnel outside of your network.
And you can bet that seeing a doctor out-of-network is much more expensive than seeing one who is in-network.
In an emergency situation, you might be stuck. But if you’re going in for a procedure, then you want to double check with the hospital that everyone who works on you will be in-network with your health insurance company. Nola.com suggests that you get an answer from them in writing so that if you end up with any bills from out-of-network doctors who weren’t paid from your insurance company, you’ll have some leverage.
You’ve now got five strong strategies to reduce healthcare costs moving forward. Arm yourself with this information, and fight to keep more money in your own pocket without compromising on healthcare.