Medical Bills: How To Save Money
The best way to save on medical bills is to treat medical services the same way you treat any other purchase where you care about price as well as quality.
If you cannot afford to pay for health care, it is advisable to take some time to explore whether to take steps to qualify for Medicaid (Medi-cal in California).
If You Have Health Insurance, Learn How To Maximize Use Of The Particular Kind You Have
You can learn about the different types of coverage available, and how to maximize use of each kind, iin the following articles If you are not sure what type of health insurance you have, click here to read about the various types.
- How To Maximize Use of Medicaid
- How To Maximize Use Of A Fee-For-Service (Indemnity) Policy
- How To Maximize Use Of An HMO And Other Managed Care Policies
- How To Maximize Use Of A PPO Health Insurance Policy
- How To Maximize Use Of A POS Health Insurance Policy
- Health Insurance: Claims: Appeals
Even if you have the best health insurance coverage around, you are likely to pay some part of health care bills.
Unfortunately, prices for health care are generally not posted. You have to work to find them. To learn more, see Health Care: How To Compare Costs
Match Health Care Provider To Need
If you need emergency care, a visit to an emergency room can be very expensive. Consider whether your need can be filled by a visit to your doctor or to a free standing emergency center or an urgent care center such as one which may be offered by a national pharmacy.
- Emergency Medical Care for Children
- Medical Emergency: How To Be Prepared
- How to Maximize Time In An Emergency Room
Think About Money When Purchasing Medications
There are a large number of ways to save money on drugs. They range from insisting on generic drugs when available (drugs which have the same active ingredients as more expensive patented drugs but which aren't patented), to getting free samples, to purchasing larger size pills and splitting them. There are even free drugs available.
For the whole list of alternatives, with information about each, see Drugs: How To Save Money When Buying Or Using
When Tests Are Ordered, Consider The Money
- If You Have Health Insurance
- Look for tests and sites which are paid for by your insurer. If the recommended test or site isn't covered, perhaps another test or site which is covered would provide the same knowledge.
- If You Don't Have Health Insurance
- Look for free tests, such as preventive exams. They are often sponsored by states local governments or disease specific nonprofit organizations. Your doctor or local disease specific nonprofit organization should know if there are any tests available in your area.
- If no free test is available, compare prices at alternative sites. For example, a CT scan in a private facility may be much less expensive than the same scan in a hospital.
Use Hospital Rooms Wisely
- Before visiting an emergency room:
- Think about whether you can receive the care you need in your doctor's office, or from a urgent care or convenience care facility. Any of these alternatives are much less expensive than a visit to the emergency room.
- Before entering a hospital:
- Compare prices.
- Check infection rates. If infection rates are high, you'll may spend extra dollars fighting infections you get in the hospital.
- If you have health insurance, be sure it covers the particular hospital.
- In the hospital:
- Keep track of all tests, procedures, drugs and other services or goods you use. (So you can compare them against the bill).
- Have a family member or friend with you as much as possible to act as a patient advocate. This will help maximize the service you receive - which in turn will help minimize your bill.
- The bill:
- Check the bill. A high percentage of hospital bills are incorrect.
- Find out if you qualify for free or low cost care either because of government program or because of hospital policy.
- Keep in mind that all hospital bills are negotiable.
- If you have insurance, don't pay a bill until after the insurance company signs off.
- For more information, see:
Check All Medical Bills
- If You Have Health Insurance
- Review all bills to be sure you aren't charged for services you didn't receive. If you are charged for such services, let the insurer know as well as the service provider.
- Don't pay any medical bills until you find out how much of it your insurer will pay. Many people have been known to pay for services that are covered by their insurer just because they received a bill.
- If you have a health insurance policy with a high deductible, check to be sure you are charged the "insured" rate rather than the "uninsured" rate.
- Appeal any insurance company denials.
- If You Do Not Have Health Insurance (Uninsured)
- Check to be sure you received the service billed.
- Negotiate the bill. You can negotiate both as to the amount you owe, and period of time over which you will pay it.
- Keep in mind that if all else fails, bankruptcy is an option.
Take Advantage Of All Employer Programs
Many employers offer discounts for so-called wellness programs. Check to see if your employer offers any and take advantage of the ones that could work for you. For instance, employers have been known to offer discounts on:
- Gym membership
- Stop smoking classes
- Weight loss programs
- Disease management programs - such as for people with bad backs.
Save Money By Minimizing Income Taxes
- Keep track of all your medical expenses, even if you do it by just throwing all receipts in a drawer or an envelope. Ifyou have insurance, they will be needed to prove you met your deductible. They will also come in handy at tax time.
- Maximize health related spending accounts offered by your employer or available on your own.
- Put the maximum amount you can into any accounts for which you qualify.
- If the account is of the "spend it or lost it" variety so you lose any money in the account which is not spent by the end of the year, be sure to spend the money. Find out what expenses qualify. Expenses may be allowed which you may not think of as permissible expenses.
- For information, see:
If needed, read: How To Deal With A Financial Crunch Or Crisis.
To Learn More
More InformationHow To Maximize Use Of Medicare Part D Original Fee-For-Service Medicare: How To Maximize Use How To Maximize Use Of An HMO How To Maximize Use Of A PPO Health Insurance Policy How To Maximize Use Of A POS Health Insurance Policy How To Maximize Use Of A Fee-For-Service Health Insurance Policy Medicare: Claims Appeals Health Insurance: Claims: Appeals Health Insurance: Types Of