Healthcare is one of the biggest expenses in Australian households and it is getting progressively more expensive. A recent study revealed some shocking statistics – 62% of bankruptcies are a result of healthcare expenses or income loss during illness.
In such a scenario, a question that many people are asking is, how can I save money on healthcare? It’s easier than you think to make sure you’re not spending money on medical costs where you can actually be saving it.
1. Understand new laws
Read up on the provisions that are laid down in laws like the Affordable Care Act. According to this law, children up to 26 years can still be covered by the policies of their parents. You may even be eligible for insurer rebates. According to the law, 80% of premiums collected by insurers are supposed to be spent on medical costs for customers. If your insurer hasn’t met these terms, you may qualify for a rebate.
2. Make sure your doctor is in-network
Doctors and hospital that are in-network are usually under contract with your insurance company. Such in-network medical expenses are significantly more affordable because they are agreed upon between the insurers and the doctor. If you get a bill that you think is wrong, always follow through. Also, each time you make an appointment with your doctor, find out if they are still in-network. Physicians may be re-evaluating the plans that they have accepted from time to time.
3. Take measures to prevent illness and stay healthy
New laws like the Affordable Care Act will cover certain preventive care such as immunization, mammograms, breast-feeding support etc. without a need for co-pays. You can use these provisions to save money. If your medical insurance was formulated after 2010, you’ll be able to benefit from these provisions. But even if your insurance was drawn up earlier, you can challenge any bill that you find has errors on it.
4. Know how to negotiate
Negotiate to get your hospital bills lowered. It is not only possible, but a survey in 2005 had discovered that 70% of ex-patients at hospitals were able to get their bills lowered. If you are uninsured or have suffered from recent financial hardships, you are more likely to succeed in this. If you are unsure of what price to quote, you can look up how much Medicare covers on websites like hospitalcompae.hhs.gov. Then call the billing manager and offer the amount. You will find that being able to pay in cash then and there will sometimes get your costs reduced by as much as half. In addition, if you are having several procedures being done at the same time, you can get a discount.
5. Look for cheaper medication
In place of brand name drugs, a large number of Americans choose to buy generic drugs. Generic drugs are FDA approved and have the same active ingredients as brand name medications. Manufacturers are able to make them more affordable because they are already tested in advance by patent-holding companies.
Even if you choose to buy branded drugs, it is useful to find out the kind of benefits offered by the pharmacy. This will help you choose the drugs that are available at the lowest prices. If you are prescribed a medicine by your doctor and it is not included under your plan at low prices, ask your doctor for an alternative medicine that you will be able to buy for less.
6. Don’t let doctors or insurers talk you into treatments you don’t need
If you are being prescribed a test that is expensive, always ask your doctor why you need the test. Find out if you can postpone it and if doing so will affect your condition. Some tests like bone-density scans, EKGs and MRIs may not be needed by every patient. If you talk to your doctor about the procedure and the potential costs in advance, then you will give your doctor the opportunity to make changes in your treatment.
If you are employed with a company, you will find that employer plans will offer the best benefits. If you can find an insurance agent you will have access to a variety of plans. Insurance companies will cover the cost of an agent, so if you have an insurance plan you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
This was a Guest Post by Brenda Panin, passionate finance and business blogger. Brenda is interested in topics related to saving money by purchasing insurance or saving money on health care. She enjoys seeing her readers getting useful information from her articles.