Six Easy but Often Overlooked Ways to Cut Healthcare Costs

Did I just say “easy?” I know, it seems like nothing is easy when it comes to healthcare, especially when we’re all facing mounting healthcare premiums and bills that don’t stop coming. But even so, there are surprising (and sometimes hidden) ways to lower those costs, even when it seems like nothing will ever make us stop hyperventilating after opening the latest bill.

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Doctors in training can help you save on health care procedures

Follow us below, where we list several ideas to help potentially decrease your healthcare costs:

1) Use technology. There are a multitude of apps out there to help you track costs and avoid duplicate charges and billing errors (which are more common than your providers would lead you to believe).  One app to try is Simplee, which organizes your health insurance account data and cross-references it to your medical claims, flagging you to potential errors and mis-billing. Another app, HealthPocket, displays all the insurance plans available in your area and filters them by cost, coverage and other important categories, allowing you to find the best and most affordable plan for your needs.

2) Let your provider know you’re struggling to pay bills. Throw pride out the door. We’re all challenged by ridiculously high healthcare costs. By letting your provider know, he or she can be more sensitive to your situation and think twice before ordering nice-to-have but not necessary tests, scheduling follow-up visits, and so on. In addition, some providers (think dental and vision) have their own plans allowing you to forgo insurance altogether and go directly through the office. For example, I discovered that my dentist offers a plan that would allow me to pay $300 per family member and give each of us two free cleanings a year, unlimited office visits, 20% off all services, and complimentary X-rays. Given that each cleaning is $100, I’d say that’s a savings.

3) Consider getting some services from doctors-in-training. Speaking of dentists, there are dental schools out there that offer deeply discounted dental services performed by students (don’t let the term, “students” scare you – they’re all supervised and have years of training). Check out the same for ophthalmology schools in your area.

4) Negotiate. Many hospitals won’t tell you this, but they are often willing to reduce an account balance for patients who can prove financial hardship. Talk to your hospital’s billing department and check out your options. You’d be surprised how many financial assistance programs exist at care facilities.

5) Compare healthcare pricing. Look up competitive and fair pricing for typical hospital stays, tests, and procedures at HealthCareBlueBook. This site lets you search for a procedure or test and learn the insurance-paid rates for them in your region. You can then take that information and ask healthcare providers to accept those rates. I was once billed $1,500 for an MRI and learned the competitive price was $500, which I offered to pay in cash. The lab took it and I saved $1,000.

6) Get to know non-profit programs. There are a variety of websites available that list or provide low-cost or free services, facilities, and programs. For instance, some state health departments offer immunizations and other well care. The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics site lists exactly that – free clinics staffed with volunteer doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals who want to broaden access to affordable healthcare.

It’s often said – but information is power. Arm yourself with as much data as you can retain in your brain and develop your own strategies for saving on healthcare. There are a lot of resources available if you look around. Good luck. We’re all in this together!

What are your tried-and-true ways of decreasing healthcare costs? Maxwell