Bad news first – in the United States, health care costs are rising at five times the rate of inflation. There is a silver lining, however. As consumers, we have the power to make informed decisions and avoid over-spending on health care. Consider the following tips:
- Make sure you find the best possible plan to fit your unique health care needs and budget. This requires a bit of research, but sites like GoHealthInsurance.com make it much easier. You can compare rates and plans side by side instantly and/or be connected with a licensed agent who can answer any questions you might have.
- Avoid sticker shock at the pharmacy by asking the price of your prescription before getting it filled. If price is an issue, your doctor may be able to suggest a more affordable course of treatment.
- Go generic! Your doctor is not obligated to prescribe a generic version of a prescription drug right off the bat. Communicate with your doctor and ask if generics are available. They are just as effective as the brand name drugs.
- Don’t go to the emergency room unless you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency. Trips to the ER are quite expensive and health insurers may charge a deductible for the visit if they deem your ER visit to be unnecessary. As an alternative to the ER, visit an urgent care center. These are popping up all over the U.S. in office buildings and strip malls. For non-life threatening illness and injury, urgent care centers are convenient and less expensive. Appointments are not required, and they are staffed by physicians and nurses who can provide services such as X-rays, electrocardiograms, and in some cases, lab work. Urgent care centers accept a variety of different health insurance plans.
- Take advantage of free preventive care. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a wide range of preventive services are available without individuals having to pay any additional copayments or deductibles. Keep in mind, if a preventive procedure leads to further care or tests that do not fall under the umbrella of “preventive” care, a bill will be received.
See my disclaimer.