How to Save Money on Family Medical Expenses

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Try to save money on family medical costs under the US healthcare system
Are you overpaying for prescriptions under the US healthcare system? Photo from Unsplash.

Healthcare is a top financial priority for the many American families today. Unfortunately, the ever-rising cost of US healthcare system services, along with medical billing mistakes and often a lack of knowledge about available options, can cause healthcare costs to skyrocket. Family medical bills can escalate into a serious financial problem. The good news is that there are several things that you as a parent can do to keep the cost of staying healthy to a minimum. For example, do price comparisons or start a medical savings account. Here are some top tips to help you save money on family medical expenses.

US Healthcare System Tip #1. Shop Around

Around 91% of American citizens were currently covered by some kind of health insurance in 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau. Health insurance helps those in medical need by covering all or some of the cost of required family medical services. However, many mistakenly believe that they need to use the health insurance provider that their doctor recommends to them or stick with the one that they have used for years. But this is not usually the case.

You have the freedom to shop around for healthcare just like you would any other product. Regularly check comparison sites to see if you could save money on your regular healthcare insurance payment. Taking a bit of time in your day to do so could make a big difference to the total amount that you pay.

Tip #2. Use In-Network Care Providers

Are you using a PPO (Preferred Provider Option) healthcare insurance plan? If so, your insurer will pay for most medical bills and costs when you use a doctor, hospital, clinic or pharmacy within the insurance company’s preferred network of medical providers. However, using a medical service outside of that network could mean you pay a bigger percentage of the final bill.

Typically, this kind of health insurance plan only pays up to about 70-80% of the costs of seeing a medical provider who’s outside the network. So it’s well worth looking into which options are included and sticking to them whenever possible. At least if you want to keep the family budget on track.

Tip #3. Ask for Generic Prescription Drugs

Did you know that you can massively save on prescription costs simply by asking for the generic version, rather than the brand name one? Branded versions of prescription drugs tend to cost your family medical provider more, leaving you more out of pocket when covering the cost.

On the other hand, generic versions tend to be the same thing, just without the well-known brand name. This results in a far cheaper cost to both the medical provider and yourself. If your doctor has recommended that you take prescription drugs, it’s well worth asking if you’re able to get the generic, non-branded version instead.

Tip #4. Look for Over-the-Counter Alternatives

Depending on the type of prescribed medication, it may be worth asking your doctor if there are any effective over-the-counter (OTC) alternatives. For example, conditions such as hay fever are often manageable by OTC antihistamine drugs rather than a costly prescription. In many cases, a cheaper, effective alternative is available that doesn’t require a prescription. Ask your doctor for their recommendations on this and about other tips they may have about the US healthcare system. You just might tap into an amazing resource.

Tip #5. Try an Online Pharmacy

If a prescription drug is your only option, then check whether you can get the needed drugs cheaper elsewhere. For example, this online Canadian pharmacy provides a wide range of prescription drugs that are available to Americans at lower prices than you’d likely find at your local pharmacist. Simply enter your prescription details to prove that you were prescribed the drug that you’re trying to buy online.

You can order prescriptions for the entire family. They are delivered straight to your door for less money that you’d expect to pay under the US healthcare system.

Tip #6. Ask for Itemized Family Medical Bills

Today, one of the biggest causes of over payment for medical expenses is billing mistakes. Every time you have a medical procedure or visit your doctor for treatment, ask for an itemized bill. Keep in mind that the explanation of benefits (EOB) letter that you’ll receive by mail afterward doesn’t have a detailed breakdown of charged costs for family medical services.

So, why ask for an itemized bill? It means that you’ll know exactly what you get charged for, along with spotting any potential costly errors sooner. Once you receive the bill, review it carefully for mistakes and dispute any that you find asap. If you notice something’s off, request a copy of your medical records to check whether or not you were charged for the correct services.

Tip #7. Don’t be Afraid to Negotiate

Many people mistakenly believe that the amount written on their medical bill is final. And that they must pay it in full. However, in some cases, there is room to negotiate within the US healthcare system.

Often, you can get a discount on medical services simply by asking. As US healthcare system services get more competitive, holding onto customers is in many medical providers’ long-term interests. Just like your cell phone network might offer you a discount if they fear you’ll leave for a competitor, your doctor or another healthcare provider might just do the same thing.

Tip #8. Try a Medical Savings Account

Lastly, it’s important to always prepare for any costs that your insurance company isn’t willing to cover. This is especially true if you have a high-deductible health plan. But it can also benefit anyone with any health insurance.

Putting some money into a medical savings account helps ensure that you have funds available for any essential costs. Also, it gives you extra security and peace of mind. You can open a health-specific savings account with many banks. Once it’s set up, you then pay in and withdraw money tax-free, provided the funds go toward a genuine medical expense.

If you found these family medical tips helpful, we’d love to hear from you in the comments! Do you have any other suggestions for ways to save money under the US healthcare system?

12 COMMENTS

  1. We have seen doctors overcharging the insurance company and the insurance company paying a reduced amount to the doctors. The insurance company also tells the client NOT to pay the overcharged amount. That is possible because of the ppo thing—the doctor has to follow certain guidelines.

    Dental is under a separate insurance. Many great dentists do not include themselves under a network. I guess, they have a better control over charging clients. 😫

    Great post! Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. The previous comment is absolutely correct. Back in the 1990s when both my parents were dying from cancer the doctors in their respective hospitals performed all types of unnecessary tests just so they could bill Medicare and get more money. One hospital had the nerve to book my Dad for surgery then call me at my job after he was dead and buried.

    Then there were all the prescription medication scandals where doctors would sign blank prescriptions giving pills like candy or selling for profit. I had a doctor who would just reach in her desk and hand me packets of pills without regard to possible negative interactions.

    Basically many doctors became legalized drug dealers. Finally the state of New York got rid of paper prescriptions and now all is computerized sent directly to the pharmacy near you.

    But there’s still so much scandal and corruption in the American medical system unless you are rich and can pay for private health care out of pocket you may as well get a plot in the cemetery. The American medical system is broken and beyond fixing. Money matters more than true health care.

  3. By the way you don’t always have a choice using In Network. I had eye surgery back in january 2010 and the anesthesia doctors were not in my plan but one does not have time to question every doctors involved in your operation. I filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The American medical system is rigged.

    We won’t even get into dentist. I have a growth in my mouth but I can’t afford the dentist. I shall avoid going.

  4. The type and quality of health care you receive is based on type of health insurance and race. If you don’t have the right type of health insurance you will not be seen.
    Hospitals in low income neighborhoods where minorities and immigrants live are notoriously difficult and horrible to the patients. I’ve been in and out of various New York city hospitals for years and I’m to the point where unless I’m bleeding or dying I won’t return.

    I’ve seen patients shackled to gurneys, heard the screams of the infirm and elderly, been in emergency rooms where people are stacked up like cordwood.

    It will never get better because the government does not care.

  5. One thing I’ve learned to do is to keep copies of larger bills, even after they’ve been paid. I have caught a” billing error ” more than once that was resent to me, and only by checking the service dates have avoided paying twice.

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