With healthcare costs continuing to rise, there are ways to help lower the cost for yourself by becoming a wise consumer of healthcare. February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month and a great time to empower people to make smart choices regarding their healthcare. Here are a few tips to help you become a wise consumer and keep your healthcare expenses in check:
Tip #1- Like most things we buy, we should shop our healthcare
Not all healthcare corporations have the same rates for the same medical procedures or even office visits. If you need surgery, shop for hospitals on your insurance plan to determine what it will cost. If you are a Medicare patient, most hospitals (but not all) accept Medicare Insurance, so be sure to select one that does.
Tip #2 – Don’t forget about yearly physicals
The single best way to keep medical costs down is to detect health issues early when they are less complicated to treat and less expensive. Also, don’t ignore symptoms. If you’ve tried remedies on your own and still don’t feel well, it’s time to see a medical professional.
Tip #3 – Partner with your medical provider
Take time selecting a doctor and give them accurate medical information. Also, prepare for your appointments by writing down symptoms, medications you’re currently taking, and questions you may have. If you don’t understand something they say, ask for clarification.
Tip #4 – Understand your health insurance plan
It is essential that you understand your insurance plan, co-pays, and in-network and out-of-network providers. If you do need to see a specialist, contact your insurance provider to ensure they will cover the specialist or if you need to seek a second opinion. Also, pre-authorization may be a requirement for specific specialists or procedures. Your insurance provider is a resource you can count on to help ensure you understand what they cover.
Tip #5 – Ask for generic medications
Most medications come with a generic version and can save both you and the insurance company. If your doctor doesn’t know if there is a generic version, ask them to indicate on the prescription if a generic is allowed to assist the pharmacy in filling your prescription.
Tip #6 – Make careful decisions about your health
People often accept their doctor’s diagnosis without question. If you receive a diagnosis, ask for a second opinion. As a consumer, it is up to you to ask questions about your health and not assume that the treatment plan will be the same from MD to MD. A few questions can help you decide what is best for your health and your wallet:
- What are the risks of my treatment?
- Is there another way to treat my condition?
- How much will my treatment cost?
Tip #7 – Review medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOB) statements
Consumers often receive medical bills ahead of the insurance company’s explanation of the benefits statement. Waiting to compare both helps ensure that you don’t overpay. If you see discrepancies, contact your insurance provider first to confirm what the medical provider charged them and your remaining costs. In medical billing codes and coverage, errors can occur, leading to costly mistakes.
Tip #8 – Take care of yourself
Your health determines how much medical care you will need now and as you age. While genetics plays a role in your overall health, exercise, food choices and consumption, mental health, and other factors also contribute to how much your medical expenses will be over your lifetime.
consult your financial professional
Make sure you are aware of what is going on with your healthcare plan. It is important to keep both your financial and physical health in good shape! Feel free to contact us with any retirement and financial questions.