The cost of healthcare seems to rise higher and higher every year. Politics aside, there are very few solutions to the problem, but savvy consumers can learn to take advantage of a few programs to help cut healthcare costs. Here are a few ideas to help you save money on healthcare related expenses.
1. Community events. Community sponsored events like health fairs, blood pressure clinics, and health screenings are a great way to get basic services for cheaper than you would pay at the doctor’s office or hospital. By taking advantage of such events, I’ve gotten my hearing and vision checked, a suspicious mole screened by a doctor, and BMI, body fat, weight and blood pressure screenings – all for free. In years past, I’ve had dermatological screenings for skin cancer risk, blood sugar testing, cholesterol screenings, and received various freebie items such as portion control plates, stretch bands for physical therapy exercises, band aids, hand sanitizer, pill trays, and emergency medical information folders – all for free. I’ve also received certification for CPR, ACLS, and respite care and first responder training – all without paying a dime. Some areas offer free cancer screenings, PAP smears, mammograms, or prostate checks for people of a certain age. You can find out about community health events by contacting your local hospital, your doctor’s office, or your local pharmacies. Other resources to check might be your local home health agency, churches, and the Salvation Army.
2. Prescription Drug Programs. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage through your insurance, or if you still wind up paying a huge chunk of money after your insurance kicks in, alleviating some of the cost of prescriptions can be a huge relief on a strained budget. Ways to save on prescription drugs include: asking your physician about medication samples, signing up for coupons and discounts from drug manufacturers, and requesting generic drugs whenever possible. Getting your prescriptions through mail order can save you a ton of money as well. You’ll need a special 90-day prescription from your doctor to take advantage of these mail-order programs. If you’re on a specialty drug, or if you simply can’t afford your pills, you can look into special programs set up by pharmaceutical companies to have part or all of your medicine donated by the company each month. Qualifications for such programs vary, and the application process is long and tedious for some drugs, but the pay-off may be free medicine for up to a year at a time.
3. Cash Payment Option. Even if you have insurance, some healthcare service providers offer special discounts for your services if you pay in cash at the time the service is rendered. This saves the provider time and money by forgoing the billing process. For example, through my healthcare insurance, I can take my son to the chiropractor with a $40 co-pay, but if I forgo billing my insurance for the service and pay cash, the chiropractor offers a special rate of $25 for the service. My local Urgent Care facility has similar arrangements for patients who pay for their own services and those who agree to pay up-front for a portion of the cost billed to insurance. Ask your healthcare provider what options are available to you.
What money-saving tips do you have for saving money on healthcare expenses?