Medical expenses, especially in the United States, can be so expensive that people have to make hard choices about what they can and can’t afford. For some people, it comes down to whether to buy groceries or medications because they just can’t make ends meet when paying both. If you are someone who struggles with ongoing medical expenses for a chronic condition or who just wants to know more about how to cut medical costs down, read on.
When it comes to prescriptions and medications, it’s important to do what you can to get the best bang for your buck. No two insurance plans and people are exactly the same. For this reason, where one person with asthma will be able to manage on certain drugs, another may not. Where you can, find generic brands. You can ask your doctor for generic equivalents to brand name drugs during visits. In those areas where you can’t substitute for cheaper medications, look for discounts.
Start by asking your pharmacist for a prescription drug coupon or discount program. Many pharmacies even have programs that offer cashback to repeat customers or provide value in areas like gift cards for over the counter drugs. The first step in saving on medical expenses is to ask around. Even your local hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office may know of discount programs to save money on medications and medical equipment.
Using Insurance Plans Effectively
Some health insurance plans are better than others. For someone on Medicaid, for example, all expenses around hearing testing would be covered for all things related to hearing loss. For someone on Medicare without supplemental insurance or an advantage plan, only eighty percent of that same hearing test would be covered. With private insurance, the amount of coverage may vary and even be contingent on health insurance plan deductibles and more. In short, one of the best ways to save on health care expenses is to know the ins and outs of your plan.
Many insurance companies offer benefits people don’t think to take advantage of. From preventative programs like gym memberships to over the counter budgets for free common drugs, you can buy anywhere, taking advantage of these programs means savings. Maybe you’re a homeowner struggling with getting your kids through remote learning due to COVID-19. If you’re working at home and healthcare visits mean Telehealth check-ins, but your child comes down with a cold, being able to cash in on those over the counter benefits might help.
It’s a good idea to call your health insurance company at the beginning of every open enrollment or when you sign up for the policy. Knowing the pros and cons of your policy could save you money in unexpected ways.
Exploring Options with Advocates and Resources
If you have trouble understanding the benefits your policy offers, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team or a customer service representative with your insurance. In recent years, many hospitals have set up programs with social workers who help people to navigate healthcare costs. You can also reach out by calling 211 in the U.S. Especially for older adults, a simple phone call could be the difference between out of pocket expenses or a cheaper option. Calling even for informational purposes is a great way to know you’re saving where you can.
In the end, navigating the healthcare system in the United States is hard. Even with the best insurance plan, it can be difficult to keep overall medical expenses down. But in doing your research, reaching out for help, finding coupons and discount programs, and more, you will have a better chance at keeping those costs down.