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Effective Ways to Save on Medical Costs

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


Skipping the doctor and hoping you get better may save money in the short term but can result in significant medical bills later. Ignoring medical advice that costs time and money can seem frugal, but the risks are high. There are less obvious but effective ways to save on medical costs.

Medical costs are greatest at both the beginning and end of life, but they periodically hit everyone.
Medical costs are greatest at both the beginning and end of life, but they periodically hit everyone. | Source

Easy Ways To Reduce Medical Costs Without Hurting Care

Manage any long term conditions to prevent them from becoming worse. Taking blood pressure medicine is cheaper than a triple bypass. Checking your blood sugar as often as the doctor wants and paying for the test strips is cheaper than an amputation. When the doctor says “give the kid breathing treatments each night”, it costs time and money but is cheaper than a single Emergency Room visit and hospital stay.

Implement your own motivational program to stay on track with your health maintenance plan. Or use the free health management programs many health insurers provide to those with diabetes, obesity and asthma.

If you have high blood pressure and are advised to stay away from salt, post a list or picture of the effects of a stroke or heart attack near the salt container. If you have diabetes and are tempted to skip blood sugar checks or chow down without consideration for the effects, print out a picture of someone who lost their legs to diabetes’ effect on their circulation. Taking an asthma control medication is inconvenient and costly, but so is a trip to the Emergency Room. One lapse in judgment or loss of self control will rarely kill you early on.

However, a failure to maintain your current condition and letting it deteriorate will have dire consequences.

Skip the fancy fiber supplements and chia seeds. Eat a whole grain granola bar instead that doesn’t contain a lot of of sugar, such as those coated in chocolate. It’s cheaper and frequently tastes better than the fiber supplements.

Keep your insurance up to date with your doctor, your child’s pediatrician, any regularly used medical specialists and your pharmacy.

When quoted a large bill, don’t assume it is just a co-pay or expensive drug. Verify that the insurance information is up to date in their records and that you received rate for those with health insurance.

When the doctor recommends a maintenance medication that must be taken over the long term, ask for a 90 day prescription. This allows you to order 3 months of medication at once, essentially gaining the benefit of a bulk discount.

Ask if there is a generic version of the drug when you start a prescription, and ask if a generic has become available when you refill the prescription. I cut the costs of my son's asthma inhaler prescription by at least half by switching to the generic after I asked if there was one.
If they do not know what is wrong and their initial efforts or tests cannot identify the problem, go somewhere else.

Visit the nurse practitioner at your local “doc in a box” medical clinic before rushing to the Emergency Room for minor ailments. The “doc in a box” of corner clinics located in many pharmacy chains is cheaper than the ER and frequently has faster turnaround. These practices even offer the convenience of filling the prescription at the pharmacy a few aisles over.

Ask for the recommendation of a good over the counter treatment instead when the doctor says you need medication. The over the counter cough medicine may be as good as the prescription, and it is often cheaper. Always ask if there is a generic option available for the prescription you are given that day as well as whether generic versions have become available for prescriptions you already take.

Remain skeptical of any chiropractor who says you need monthly or quarterly “adjustments”. You’re human, not a machine out of whack.

Don’t buy supplements the doctor recommends from the doctors themselves, and always ask if the supplement is actually medically necessary. Doctors often sell high end supplements to supplement their own income. If the doctor recommends a supplement for a vitamin deficiency or medical condition, ask for a prescription for what can be purchased at the pharmacy or a list of over the counter versions. If the doctor refuses, you know the supplement is more to help for their bottom line than you.

Discuss the supplements you are taking with your doctor. You may not need a few of those herbs or vitamins, or they may be interfering with medication you do take.

Take advantage of free vision, hearing and scoliosis checks at your child's school. You can often arrange low cost screenings for your child during these screenings in the years it isn't mandated by state law, so that your child's vision and hearing are checked every year.


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