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, ask your doctor about any effective over-the-counter (OTC) alternatives to help with post-surgery recovery or other health challenges. 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?