The cost of medical care has been rising, and consumers are now finding it increasingly difficult to manage their out-of-pocket costs. This is especially true for people who have chronic conditions that require regular physician visits and bloodwork or other tests.
By ensuring that youre using your insurance to your full benefit and reducing your out of pocket expenses, you can lower your health care costs. In general, you should plan ahead for your known health care expenses and be knowledgeable and prepared in the event of an emergency. Also keep in mind that your health care team may not always consider your out-of-pocket costs when recommending tests and treatments. If youre concerned about costbring it up and discuss it.
- Know what your insurance covers before an emergency occurs. Insurance coverage can be complicated, and insurance documents can be incomprehensible. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to your human resources department about your coverage in the case of an emergency. Keep in mind that many insurance carriers require that you call them within a certain time period after a visit to the emergency room.
- Take advantage of in-network coverage. By seeing physicians that are in your insurance network, you can avoid paying out of network costs. You can check your insurance carriers web site or call their customer service line to find out if a physician is in your network.
- Dont go without coverage between jobs. Keeping coverage when youre between jobs through the federal COBRA program can be very expensive. However, if you are without coverage and experience a flare-up of your chronic condition, develop a related condition, or have an accident, you could be facing far higher costs. Avoiding a lapse in coverage is also important to prevent the pre-existing condition limitation imposed by some insurance carriers.
- Take advantage of flexible spending accounts (FSA), and plan wisely to ensure it is all used. If you do find that you have money left in your FSA at the end of the year, you could use it on over-the-counter medicines, a refill on your maintenance medications, or contacts and eyeglasses.
- Lower drug costs by considering generic alternatives and comparing prices. Talk to your doctor about generic versions for your prescription drugs. If your doctor is recommending a new drug that does not have a generic alternative, ask about getting a sample.
- Dont go to the emergency room for routine care. Having a primary care physician or prompt care center to go to is very important when routine health problems occur. Having to go to the emergency room for a bad cold or the flu could cost you and eat up your FSA.
- Ask for a 90-day supply of your maintenance drugs. If you must pay a copay each time you fill a prescription, you can cut that cost by going longer between refills.