Submitted by Rachel R on Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:30am
Medical costs aren't set in stone
Image source - Flickr User wonderlane
Medical costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy and can be a huge source of stress for many households. The best approach is to not let yourself get behind on medical bills and the best way to do this is to cut medical costs from the get-go. Today we'll look at some tips to reduce medical expenses both before and after the fact.
#1 Your medication co-pay may be more than you should pay
Most insurance plans now have tiers of medication co-pays. For lower cost plans, it can be $5 for generics, $10 for mid-range and $20 for premium meds. You go pick up your meds, hand over your card and your co-pay and don't think a thing about it. But what you may not know is you could get it cheaper without going through your insurance. Many grocery and drug stores offer basic antibiotics for free and warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club offer cheaper prices on prescriptions than many insurance copays. It pays to comparison shop before you plop down your co-pay. Also, research if there is a similar medication that costs less than what your doctor has prescribed. Doctors often have no clue about costs and will happily write you a scrip for a similar but cheaper medication if you prefer it .
#2 Medical bills are usually negotiable
If you aren't insured or have a procedure that's not covered by your insurance, you'll likely go into sticker shock when you get the bill. Medical diagnostics and procedures are costly, particularly when you have to go to the emergency room. For most people, you get the bill and if you can't pay it, you just stick it in a drawer and ignore it. This won't make it go away and then it will end up in collections which will add to the costs of the bill. Instead of letting this go on, call and haggle. You'll have to do it politely and make sure you're talking to the right person. Typically, this means the person that handles the billing and you may need to speak to a supervisor. You can often get discounts of up to 50% if you explain you can't afford it. Once you get a price cut, then ask to pay in installments.
#3 You Can Shop Around Before a Procedure
If you have a set co-pay for a procedure, it won't matter much where you have something done – so long as you choose a physician that will do a good job. But if you have a co-insurance charge, which means you pay for a percentage of the total cost, you should look for the best bargain so long as you're getting a competent physician. You'd call around and compare costs when you need your transmission fixed, so why not when you're getting your gallbladder removed? There's nothing wrong with comparing prices for surgical centers and then asking for the best possible price they can offer you. Money is money, so buy smart for your medical services like you would for anything else.
#4 You Should Always Choose In-Network Physicians
If your insurance has in-network and out-network options, always choose in-network even if this means changing your doctors. Even if you've been seeing the same doctor for years, it's money smart to pick a new one that's in-network. You may need to experiment and try more than one before you find one you're comfortable with, but you can find one and you'll save big bucks. The same goes for medical facilities. If you're out of state and have a medical problem, unless it's an emergency, it pays to wait until you're home to seek treatment even if it means shaving a day off your vacation. Out of state treatments are always out of network and can cost significantly more.
If you've got medical bills and a ton of other debts that you can't afford to pay, bankruptcy may be the best option to get you the financial fresh start you need. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt today for a free consultation on your finances to find out how we can help.
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