A recent issue of Money provided several shrewd, useful and somewhat sneaky methods to save on the rising costs of American health care. Some of the best ones are:
1) Many visits to the doctor are not to receive medical treatment but simply to monitor your health. You can decrease your number of annual visits by monitoring your health at home. There are a wide variety of testing kits for various conditions available that are fairly inexpensive, reputable, accurate, and simple to use. And in many cases your insurance company may cover the costs if your doctor recommends purchase of the kit.
2) Everyone knows that generic drugs are much cheaper. However, there are web sites like GoodRx.com that will tell you the best prices in your area. Mail order pharmacies are a flourishing business and give incredible discounts, sometimes up to 70%. They do have their drawbacks and are not for everyone. Do a web search for “mail order pharmacy problems” and inform yourself of the pros and cons.
3) Daily exercise and a nutritious diet can alleviate many chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and may also save you money. Recent medical research has found that for many people, losing about 7% of body weight may decrease blood pressure enough to get off the pills. Most insurers will cover the cost of a nutritionist if your doctor recommends it for you.
4) A bit of a drive may be worth it to save money. If you need an imaging test, check your insurance company’s web site for a list of area imaging providers. Phone them and ask for prices. In the U.S. Northeast, a CT scan of the abdomen, for example, can cost $1,460 with one provider and as low as $480 by another. Prices vary wildly throughout the U.S.
5) 13% of Americans over 50 received mental health treatment or psychological counsel in 2011. At least 80% of major companies have employee assistance programs. An employee may be able to get 3 to 8 sessions with a mental health professional at no or minimal cost. By law, all sessions are confidential and the employer would never know.
6) After the age of 40, your teeth begin to show a lifetime of wear and tear, and dental costs hurt more than your dentist’s drill. If you delay, it may pay. If you need a $2,000 crown, for example, and your insurance coverage is maxed out or close to it for that year, ask the dentist for a temporary crown. Pushing the work to the next calendar year and new insurance period can save you up to $1,000.
7) On the other hand, if your entire family needs major and expensive dental work, and you’re looking at a whopping bill, have all the work done in one calendar year. You may qualify for a medical tax deduction if all your medical expenses for that year exceed 7.5% of your gross income.
Photo: jordanswan38 (flickr)