Talk to Your Doctor and Save

doctorThe U.S. healthcare system is changing as many consumers are trying to be proactive, make financially smart and healthy choices and find more ways to get a better handle on costs. Taking charge of your health and saving money on medical expenses can truly begin with knowing how to talk to your doctors and medical providers. Here are tips to maximize communication:

  • Write down the top problems you are experiencing to help your doctor focus on what to treat first.
  • Bring a list of all current prescription medications as well as over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements and include dosage and how often you take them.
  • Keep a handy record of recent test results, lab reports, surgeries and other relevant health information.

Costs should also be a part of every conversation and patients should be not be afraid to bring up the subject. While doctors are typically not afraid to discuss costs, they simply may not know exact costs or projected out-of-pocket expenses.

Another area of concern is the rising cost of prescription medications. If your doctor does not bring up a generic alternative, then you should. Here are ways to save on prescriptions:

  • Skip chain drugstores and consider shopping at a warehouse store for lower prices.
  • Go local to your neighborhood pharmacist and ask them to beat a competitor’s price.
  • Know that some chain and big-box stores offer common generics at low prices for people who pay out-of-pocket and not with their insurance.
  • Ask your pharmacist if any discounts, programs, cards or coupons could make your price lower.
  • For long-term drugs, consider buying a three-month supply so you pay one co-pay rather than three.

Remember that walk-in clinics are suitable for common procedures like flu shots, sports physicals and minor injuries and they are always more cost efficient than emergency rooms. Staying healthy is still the optimal way to save money on healthcare, so take time for your own health. Know your blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol and family medical history and always make efforts to control weight.


Is It Time for Scheduled Benefits?

Pair of Human Hands Checking the Blood Pressure of a PatientA scheduled benefit plan is exactly what the name suggests – a health plan with limits to what will be paid for each covered expense. Similar to a comprehensive major medical plan, members typically have a deductible with the plan paying up to each respective limit for covered expenses. In order to determine what will be paid for a covered benefit, many plans base their scheduled payments on Medicare, since it is the most widely accepted index. It is fairly common for the plan and area hospitals to agree on Medicare plus 20%. In other instances, hospitals agree to accept a payment equal to their cost plus a pre-determined margin – perhaps 10% to 15%. Continue reading

How To Save On Prescription Drug Costs

Health care costs, which include everything from hospital and doctor bills to the cost of pharmaceuticals, home health services, etc., consume more than 16% of the nations economic output. At the current growth rate of over 7% per year, costs can be expected to consume almost 20% in the near future. Prescription drugs represent the most rapidly expanding component of health care expenses, with a double digit rate of inflation approaching 11%.   Continue reading

Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners

Most doctors are trained to make patient-care recommendations without regard for cost. This can be a problem. Such was the case for one physician’s patient who returned for his next visit without having gotten tests and medications the doctor ordered. “I couldn’t afford them,” the patient said, embarrassed. Had the doctor known, he could have discussed doing without the test along with prescribing a low-cost generic medicine. Continue reading