With more insurers charging higher premiums, raising deductibles and switching from fixed co-pays to coinsurance, Americans are paying more for health care. In fact, 2015 statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show our per capita health care spending is more than twice the average of other developed countries. The following measures may help reduce those costs.
Ask. Ask your physician if proposed tests are necessary. Ask about free samples, generic prescriptions, therapeutic alternatives or using a reputable mail-order pharmacy. Request prescriptions for over-the-counter drugs so you can pay for them with your flexible spending or health savings account. Before having tests, x-rays or surgery, inquire about alternate facilities. The same procedure in an outpatient surgery center or scans in an independent radiology facility may cost significantly less than in a hospital.
Verify. Before having a procedure, make sure the facility and all health care professionals involved are in your network. Even if you will be paying out-of-pocket, you can save with the insurer’s negotiated pricing. Review bills and Estimate of Benefits statements for discrepancies. According to a recent Forbes article, 50 percent of hospital bills have significant errors.
Research. Identify your options for after-hours care before it’s needed. Going to an emergency room that’s in network will be less expensive, but the cost of a visit to an urgent-care center could be a fraction of that. And a trip to a convenience-care clinic (like CVS’ Minute Clinic) still less. Determine whether costs for doctors’ visits or quotes for medical tests or surgery are in line with other providers in your area atwww.healthcarebluebook.com
. Compare costs and get coupons for specific drugs atwww.goodrx.com
Negotiate. If you’re paying out of pocket, explain your situation to your health care provider and ask for discounts. If you’re able to pay cash, ask about a reduced rate for doing so. Some providers will cut your bill by 20 percent. Make sure you still get your insurer’s negotiated rate, and submit the bill yourself so it counts toward your deductible. If you require hospital treatment, meet with the facility’s ombudsman beforehand and explain you want to create a plan for affordable care.
If it has been a while since you evaluated the role health care costs play in your retirement savings, or if your situation has changed, contact our office to schedule a time we can meet to help you stay on track with your long-term goals.