Easy Tips for Saving on Health Insurance

Savings on health insurance has become a hot-button issue lately, pervading discussions in the political establishment at the states' and federal levels as well as in family talks at the dinner table. You can reduce your medical insurance premiums by making a few lifestyle changes and communicating more with the medical establishment, for example. Other tips include seeking cheaper drugs, shopping for medical insurance and increasing deductibles.

Can I Reduce Follow-Up Appointments?

Enquire more when a physician tells you to come back after three or six months. Ask why this follow-up appointment is needed and how it falls within your overall prevention and treatment procedures. You can seek to refer the matter to your primary-care doctor to get a second opinion. The goal here is not to doubt the good intentions of the hospital doctor or infer that he or she is overzealous, but to simply place a phone call or send an email to clarify why you need, say, that second or third x-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test.

Easy Tips for Saving on Health Insurance

How Do I Cut on Hospital Bills?

Negotiate with the hospital. Talk to the account administrator and explain your situation, telling him or her why you cannot afford the hefty bill you just received. Most hospitals, when confronted with a personal case of temporary financial difficulty or outright economic pressure, may accept to lower a patient's bill. This is something healthcare institutions, understandably, are not willing to publicly disclose, though. You also can canvass the offices of local nonprofits to present your case, but make sure you back up your statements with proof, such as pay stubs, last three bank statements and recent tax returns.

Should I Ask for Cheaper Medication?

Of course you always can ask the doctor to prescribe affordable drugs, the kind that wouldn't break your bank any time soon. Cheaper medication often is generic and not brand-name, but it heals and does the same medical trick. Doctors typically don't have much information about the cost of drugs, so you should ask your doctor if there's a less expensive but equally effective alternative to the drug he or she prescribed to you. But "just be sure your doctor is intimately familiar with the benefits and risks of the alternate drugs for your condition," says Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, distinguished professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and author of On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health.

Where Can I Refill Prescriptions Cheaply?

Try big retailers like Costco and Walmart. Check with each of them to learn more about their savings plans, eligibility criteria and discount programs. For example, Walmart offers a large assortment of products and services that include pharmacy services, $4 prescriptions, health insurance and benefits, pet prescriptions and specialty pharmacy services.

The other big retailers offer similar products and services, but suffice it to say that any other retailer, be it small or midsize, typically has a program through which you may save big on everything from medications to medical equipment and supplies.

Where Do I Shop for Health Insurance?

We live in an economy in which information is power and the Internet has asserted its ubiquity on everything from medical care to premium payment to personal data archiving to healthcare cost tracking. So, use online tools like eHealthInsurance to get a quote or compare the various medical insurance packages that are out there. This is an important money saver because you certainly want to entrust your (and your family's) medical coverage to a reputable yet affordable healthcare plan.

Should I Change My Lifestyle to Lower my Health Insurance Premium?

Wells Fargo recommends a lifestyle change that can help you stay healthy and gradually reduce your overall medical coverage bill. The bank suggests that you get an annual physical, read current healthy lifestyle information and change their behavior accordingly, exercise regularly and limit alcohol consumption. It also suggests that policyholders willing to curb their health insurance costs quit smoking, make healthy eating choices and take only medication prescribed by doctors.

How Do I Increase My Deductible?

You can lower your health insurance bill by raising your deductible, which is the out-of-pocket expense you would incur should you, for example, need an emergency procedure or other type of life-threatening event requiring hospitalization. Talk to your insurance agent to learn more how much you would save under different deductible scenarios.

Most health insurance companies have a simulator you can use to estimate your monthly premium based on the deductible amount you choose. If you select a high deductible, make sure you have extra cash saved somewhere – say, a certificate of deposit or savings account – to cope with the rainy days that might come when you have an accident. This is because you would need to cover any minor or routine health care expenses until your calendar year deductible is met.

Where Can I Get Help?

Nobody can tell you precisely what type of medical insurance is right for you and how much coverage you should purchase. Besides online insurance comparison tools, you can use a medical insurance glossary to learn more about options available to you and what each entails in terms of cost, coverage and policyholder responsibility. Don't forget to also talk to your insurance agent as well as medical authorities in your residence areas, especially your state's Department of Health and Human Services for more information about medical insurance. Here the objective is to become familiar with terms as diverse as health management organization, primary care physician, preferred provider organization, point of service, coinsurance and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).

Recap

The world of medical insurance often is complex, but you still can navigate it and save money by following some easy tips. These include negotiating hospital bills, shopping for health insurance, asking for cheaper medications and reducing follow-up appointments, when medically possible.

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