The cost of healthcare can wreak havoc on your budget if you're not careful. Sometimes a few simple changes can help ensure you don't spend more than you need to on medical treatment.
Avoid the emergency room Reserve trips to the emergency room for true emergencies. If you've got an earache, sore throats, or common cold, skip the emergency room. Go to an urgent care facility or schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor and save hundreds of dollars.
Call around for prices If you've got a high deductible or don't have any health insurance, call around for prices before you seek treatment. Not only do the prices for doctor visits vary, the cost of services, such as lab work, X-rays and diagnostic testing can range from one facility to the next.
Look for free or low cost clinics Many communities have free or low-cost clinics. Look for healthcare clinics that offer a sliding scale. This means you may pay just a small percentage of medical fees based on your income.
Get flu shots at the pharmacy When it's time for your flu shot save money by getting your flu shot at a local pharmacy. Some communities have flu shot clinics as well where you can receive your shot for a fraction of the price
Take advantage of free medical screenings Sometimes hospitals or organizations offer free medical screenings. When organizations conduct free screenings, they often test participants' blood pressure or cholesterol for free. Free screenings can also help you identify your risk factors. For example, a cardiovascular health screening may offer the community information about how to identify their risk factors for heart disease. Knowing your risk levels for major diseases can help you become proactive in preventing health problems.
Ask about medication assistance There are many programs available to help people pay for prescriptions. Your doctor may be willing to prescribe a generic drug or similar drug that can save you a lot of money. You can also ask your doctor about any programs that drug companies may offer. Many prescription manufacturers offer programs to help people cover the costs of prescriptions when they lack insurance coverage.
Review your medical bills Ask for detailed copies of your medical bills. Sometimes medical bills include costly errors so it is important to review each charge on a line-by-line basis. If you discover any discrepancies, contact the hospital or doctor's office immediately to get your bill corrected.
Educate yourself Stay informed about any insurance benefits, healthcare costs and preventative care needs. When you're educated about your healthcare and the costs, you're more likely to be able to save money and avoid overpaying for services.
About the Author: Amy Morin writes about psychology and healthcare topics such as physician reputation.