5 Ways to Reduce Your Medical Bill
Though the government has made healthcare insurance affordable for a large majority of the American population, out-of-pocket medical bills can still quickly skyrocket. Whether you are in for a routine check-up, or you are being submitted for surgery, there are ways you can save on the costs associated with such. Here are five ways in which you can reduce your medical bill without sacrificing the care and quality of service that you need to better your health.
- Pay in Full
While at the doctor, visit the billing office and pay for your bill, on the spot, in full. When you pay for your medical bills in full, you might have the opportunity to ask for a discount. Usually, it is advised that you ask for a 20 percent discount, to which the practice or hospital might agree to. This is because many would prefer to have the bill settled, rather than have to go through a long, drawn-out process of dealing with collections.
Some say that disclosing your family income can also help lower your overall bill. The healthcare facility might realize that a family whose annual income is $50,000 might struggle to pay a $15,000 bill. For those who live in the upper-income brackets, this may not be the best strategy. Regardless, if you do pay in full, keep in mind that this will severely weaken your ability to negotiate the total cost later-on down the road.
- Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room
If you have ever attended the emergency room, you know that the cost of doing so is quite expensive. Emergency rooms are wonderful, life-saving facilities that help people in their most desperate times of medical need. However, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey estimated that up to one-half of those who visit the ER aren’t suffering from a life-threatening condition.
By attending the ER with a medical condition that is not necessarily an emergency, you could be spending more money than you need to. Some have even estimated that, overall, Americans spend more than $18 billion on unnecessary ER visits. As an alternative, if you aren’t suffering from a life-threatening condition, consider going to an urgent care center instead. You will still receive the treatment you need, in the off-hours, and reduce your medical bill at the same time.
- Switch to Generic
Discuss with your healthcare provider about switching from brand name drugs to generic. Generally, those who do so save around 85 percent on medication costs alone. If you rely on a significant number of prescription medications, the costs in these savings could be astronomical.
Unfortunately, if you take a newer medication this option may not be possible for you. Additionally, some generic drugs do not work as effectively as brand name medications for some people. This is why you should have an honest discussion with your doctor about why you want to make the switch over to generic. They might be able to provide you with new insight that could save you money at the pharmacy.
- Outpatient Services
When you have surgery, doctors can insist that you stay in the hospital overnight in order to ensure that all is well. While this is necessary for more invasive or intense surgeries, it isn’t absolutely necessary for every kind of surgery. Ask your doctor about having the surgery done at an outpatient center. Not only will you get to go home and sleep in your own bed, you could save the money it would cost you to stay in the hospital.
Your doctor might have important reasons as to why you should have the surgery done in a hospital, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation with them about it. Understand exactly why it is necessary for you to stay overnight so that you can make an informed decision. If your doctor thinks that it is perfectly safe to have the surgery done in outpatient, go for it. It could save you thousands.
- Compare Estimates
Much like you would if you were buying a vehicle, don’t be afraid to compare the cost of the same procedure at different facilities. You might be surprised to find that the hospital a little further down the road charges less for the same procedure than the hospital right next door. You can request for cost estimates are various facilities, so that you can choose the healthcare center that is right for you.
Of course you want to receive the best care possible to ensure your health, but if there is an equally reputable facility that charges less, you could reduce your medical bill. There are various companies online that offer a price match tool, but for the most accurate estimates use Medicare’s Hospital Compare. For your region, you could look up the price of common procedures and choose the best one.