According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare costs are expected to rise by 5.8% each year until 2022, which is going to make for a pretty serious hike in your expenses. Instead of getting frustrated and giving in, though, put your thinking cap on. If you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and do a little research, you can find plenty of ways to reduce your medical costs. Here are six of them.
1. Use Urgent Care Facilities Instead of the Emergency Room
It’s a pretty decent bet that there’s an urgent care facility near where you live that you can use in lieu of the emergency room. It won’t cost you as much, and many such facilities offer extended hours. Don’t wait for the next time an emergency occurs – do an Internet search now to find suitable locations and note their hours of operation.
2. Improve Your Health
One of the simplest ways to decrease your medical costs is to improve your health. If you’re overweight, join a gym or create a home workout program and adjust your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Still smoking cigarettes? Buy a patch or join a support group and quit. Got friends who encourage you to party it up on the weekends? Find yourself some new ones or convince them to participate in healthier activities. Concrete steps like these can get you more fit and less likely to need medical attention.
3. Get Generic Prescription Medication
Whenever your doctor prescribes any medication, be sure to ask for a generic option. You can save as much as 85%, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which also points out that you don’t sacrifice anything in quality by avoiding brand name meds.
4. Pay Your Bill Upfront
If you have the means to do so, offer to pay your medical bill upfront for a negotiated discount. This is a shrewd and under-used method to reduce your medical costs. See the billing department at the hospital or your doctor’s office for details.
5. Use Your Smartphone
A variety of mobile apps can help you save on medical bills and healthcare. There’s the Patient Army app which helps identify medical billing errors, and your employer and insurance provider may be able to provide other mobile apps that can help you reduce costs. If you need an app to stay on track with your fitness goals, try My Fitness Pal or CalorieKing.
6. Review Bills for Errors
It’s easy to say “review your bills for errors” to save on medical costs, but when you get right down to it, the process can seem almost impossible. Medical bills are generally filled with codes and data that are virtually impossible for the layperson to decipher, and the process can easily lead to frustration.
Don’t give in. Review your bill to the best of your ability and if you notice any obvious errors, question them. Then get in touch with your medical provider’s billing department and ask for a detailed explanation. This can take some time, but if you’re addressing a charge of $100 or more, a few minutes is certainly time well-spent. If you don’t find a satisfying resolution, visit the website Medical Billing Advocates of America where a representative can review your bills and tell you what’s in error.
Whenever you do save money on your medical costs, note them in a journal. Then, every few months, contribute that amount to whatever area of your finances needs the most attention. You might want to send in an extra payment toward your credit card balances, beef up your emergency fund, or start a 529 college savings plan for your kids. Conserving money on medical and healthcare costs is great, but putting that money to its best use is even better.
What ways can you think of to reduce your medical costs?