With the rising cost of health care and no matching increase in wages, more and more people are choosing not to seek treatment or fill their prescriptions when they are sick since it is just too expensive. When it comes down to having to decide whether to pay your electric bill to keep your power turned on or to get a prescription filled, unfortunately the prescription often takes a backseat.
The good news is that there are many simple things you can do that can dramatically decrease the cost of health care and allow you to take care of yourself and your family without breaking the bank. Here are 5 easy ways to make health care more affordable.
Shop Around for Health Care
People are more than willing to shop around to save a dollar or two on the latest DVD or a pair of pants, but very few people do the same with their health care.
Just like in any industry, prices can vary greatly between doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. You can often find the same quality of care for a fraction of the cost simply by shopping around and comparing prices. Do keep in mind, though, that cost should not be the only deciding factor when choosing where you will get your health care. Be sure that the place offering the lowest price is reputable and offers high quality care before you jump into anything that you might regret.
There has been a lot of negative press surrounding ordering prescriptions online, however there are many legitimate online pharmacies where you can purchase your prescriptions and often save a lot of money. Before buying your drugs from an online pharmacy make sure they carry the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal. This seal, which is sponsored by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, ensures that the drugs you order are exactly what you will receive.
If you have a simple ailment like a stomach ache or an ear infection you can consider going to one of the walk in clinics that are now open at some national retail stores like Wal-mart. These clinics offer quality care at a more affordable price and can be a great alternative to the high cost of a doctor's visit if you are not seriously ill.
Negotiate the Cost of Treatment
One thing that most people don't know is that the prices that doctors and hospitals charge are not always set in stone. Often, if you ask for a deal there is a good change you will get it.
Before asking for a discount on your treatment you should become informed as to what the typical cost for the procedure or service is so you will have a stronger leg to stand on when negotiating. If you have health insurance, you can call your insurance company and ask them what standards rates they pay for the service are for physicians in your area. Typically the rate the insurer pays will be less than what you were quoted, but it will give you a good idea of how low you can go.
If you don't have health insurance or don't want to call your insurance company, you can check out the information at the Center for Medicare and Medicade Services. They provide the costs for many inpatient, outpatient and physician services on their website. Once you know how much a procedure should cost it is easier to negotiate with your doctor or hospital to get a better deal.
Save Money on Prescriptions
We've already discussed shopping around to get the best price on your prescriptions, but there are several other ways you can save on prescriptions as well.
The first thing you should do is check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there is a generic version of the drug you are taking. Buying the generic version can cut costs each month while still giving your the care that you need.
If there are no generic alternatives, check with your doctor if there is a lower cost drug that will still treat your condition but will save you money. Often simply switching name brands will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Another option to save on your prescriptions is to ask your doctor if you can buy higher dose pills and then split them into the correct dosage. Larger, high-dose pills are almost always priced the same as the smaller, lower-dose pills of the same drug. Making this simple change can quite literally save you hundreds of dollars a year on your prescriptions.
If you don't have health insurance or prescription drug coverage, you can look for a prescription discount card or program. There are quite a few programs available that require you to show financial need, however there are a few programs that are available for any income level. Just do some searching and you can probably find a program that will help to significantly cut your costs.
Stress is one of the largest contributing factors to many health problems and doctor visits. Finding a way to relax and de-stress can do wonders to save your health. Try Yoga, meditation or just kicking back and listening to some music to unwind. Exercise is also a great stress reliever and has the added benefit of getting your blood pumping which also help you keep you healthier. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercises program to make sure it is safe for you.
If your schedule is too tight to fit in any time for relaxation, at least close your eyes and take some deep breaths every so often. This can help you to clear your mind and cut the stress.
Brown Bag It
Can taking your lunch to work with you really save you money on health care? You bet! Homemade food is almost always a healthier option than the food that you can get a restaurant, deli or fast foodjoint. Not only that, but restaurant portions are nearly always much larger than a single serving, which means in all likelihood you will eat more than you should. Eating fatty foods and packing on extra pounds can all lead to health problems which can add to up big health care costs.
Simply taking healthier lunches to work with you that are an appropriate portion size can help you maintain your weight and stay healthier. The best way to save money on health care is to avoid the doctor all together!
Try these 5 easy steps and you should be on your way to saving money on your health care in no time.