3 Tips for Avoiding Higher Health Care Costs

by Miranda Marquit · 0 comments

No matter what you think of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the reality is that health care costs have long been rising, and radical changes are needed to keep costs in check in the years to come. Additionally, according to Ruth Fenner Barash, whose recent book is For Better or Worse: Lurching from Crisis to Crisis in America’s Medical Morass, the health care system has long been riddled with problems.

If you want to keep your own personal health care costs as low as possible, there are 3 main things you need to do:

1. Stay Away from the Emergency Room

There are few things in American health care as expensive as an emergency room visit. Even if you have insurance, a trip can be more expensive, since the co-pay is usually higher when you use emergency care services. Whenever possible, see your primary care physician.

Even for those without insurance, who must be treated in emergency rooms before being released, the cost can be high. First of all, there are still charges, and it can be difficult to pay them. There is another cost as well. Barash points out that emergency rooms usually have a large number of germs floating about, since patients aren’t often isolated. You might go in with one thing and be back soon with something else.

The cost of missing work and taking additional medication can increase your health care costs, just because of something you picked up while you were sitting in an emergency room.

2. Question Everything

Don’t automatically assume you need an expensive test, or that you have to take a certain medication, just because it’s recommended to you. Unfortunately, some health care providers get kickbacks for their recommendations. “Research your physician’s connections,” Barash says. Find out why you are being prescribed a name-brand instead of a generic. Find out why one specialist is recommended above another. It’s important to consider these items. A second opinion, or another procedure, might save you quite a bit of money over time. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to get information elsewhere.

3. Find Out What It Costs

Even if your health insurance provider is picking up the tab, you should still have an idea of how much it costs. “Part of the blame for having the most expensive health care system in the world goes to us, the individuals who don’t question purchases are shop for prices,” says Barash. Find out what a procedure or medication costs, and see if you can get it cheaper. Remember, even if your insurer is paying for it, you are going to see increased costs in the form of premium hikes if the insurer thinks it is paying out too much for your health care.

You should also check your bill carefully. Billing errors can be costly, charging you for services and items that you didn’t even benefit from. You can ask for an itemized bill so that you can identify what, exactly, you are being charged for.

In many cases, knowledge is power — and knowledge can result in savings on health care.

Bonus Tip:

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