How to save money on health care costs
Consumers are paying more of their healthcare costs. We shop around for deals to spas, restaurants, and other services. Why not shop around for medical care? Here are five ways to reduce your family’s medical insurance costs.
Use outside provider for X-ray, MRI, or lab work
If you injure yourself and need an MRI or X-ray for diagnostic purposes, shop around for care. Consider using a facility other than the hospital or your doctor’s office. Call a provider other than the one your doctor suggests. Stand-alone facilities often provide the same service for a fraction of the cost. Often $300 compared to $3000 at a hospital group or medical facility associated with your doctor.
Pay cash to save on medical expenses
Sometimes you just have to forget about your insurance, and look for alternatives to reduce medical bills. It’s difficult to accept when you’re paying a large healthcare premium, but it’s a quick way to get medical bill help.
Many providers offer a cash discount. This means you pay for the treatment, and the claim does not count toward your deductible. That’s because the claim is never submitted to your insurance company. It saves you money because the provider never has to spend time filing insurance paperwork.
Cash discounts are very common for diagnostic tests and imaging. We already discussed that independent, stand-alone imaging centers offer some of the cheapest prices. You can pay even less there if you offer to pay cash. That $1500 imaging test may now be just $300. Ask for that cash discount.
Ask about price transparency
Price transparency is a big buzzword in the medical community. Consumers are demanding an estimate upfront so they can reduce medical bills before they arrive in the mail. That’s why many hospitals are posting average prices for top medical procedures online. Check with your local hospital before an elective procedure so you know the average price.
If the prices are not posted online, call the hospital and ask for the average cost.
Also, research prices on sites like Healthcare Bluebook. This particular company lists the fair price which is the price you should expect to pay.
There are many companies providing cost estimates. Their prices are based on government and publicly available data. The prices may not be an accurate reflection of the price you pay. It’s a starting point in price transparency.
Shop for treatment prices online
Entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to make money, and often that happens by saving you money. Third party websites pop up offering discounts on medical care. A few years ago, there was a site where you could bid on health procedures like Priceline for the travel industry. Only bids were for medical care. People liked it, but the company is no longer doing business. However, the market is always changing so look for new business ventures that help you save on medical costs.
Save On Medical is the latest website that offers self-pay prices for procedures. The site says the prices can vary just like a flight. It all depends on a provider’s availability. If there are open appointment times, you may see the time slot sold at a discount similar to unused hotel rooms.
Most hospital groups offer financial assistance plans if you ask for billing help. The programs vary by hospital and by income, but can substantially reduce medical bills. Hospitals can easily write-off or erase certain portions of your bill.
If reducing your bill is not an option, ask for a payment plan.
You have options for health care just like you do any other product or service you buy. Start asking questions about price, and you’ll be able to find ways to cut your medical costs.