Healthy body, healthy wallet: Take simple steps to keep health-care costs down
During his campaign, President Barack Obama promised that he’d work to reform the nation’s health-insurance industry.
But until those reforms are made, it’s still up to individuals to manage their health-care costs. During these tough economic times, it’s important to take some simple steps to save money. Here are five ways to do just that.
Buy less expensive drugs
Many brand-name drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter versions, have generic equivalents that are less expensive.
If no generic alternative is available, ask your insurance company or human resources department if there is a substitute drug available in your health plan that costs less. Different drugs often do the same thing and attack the same illnesses. If you can find a cheaper drug that performs the same task, you can again save a significant amount of money.
Doctors are focusing more on preventative medicine as a way to keep people healthier. When you’re healthy, you spend less on visits to the doctor, medication and treatment.
Unfortunately, there’s no secret to staying healthy. Your best bet is the standard: exercise, eat healthy foods, don’t smoke and cut down on your alcohol intake.
Explore options when you need to see a doctor
You’d be surprised how much money you can save by visiting retail clinics, such as the ones now offered at Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy stores, among others. For problems that aren’t quite as serious, a visit to a retail clinic can result in a bill that’s less than half of what you’d be charged at a traditional doctor’s office.
Don’t forget health fairs
Public events like health fairs often offer wellness screenings, lab work and other procedures at reduced costs. Some fairs even offer free health services. Check your local newspapers or governmental offices for information on fairs coming to your area.
Look for errors
According to a story in Money Magazine, some experts say that as many as eight out of 10 hospital bills contain mistakes. These mistakes, on average, increase the bills by 25 percent. That’s a lot of money that doesn’t need to be paid.
Check your medical bills carefully. If you’re being charged for a service you didn’t receive, make sure to fight the mistake.
Sources: AARP, CNNMoney, National Center for Policy Analysis
author: Dan Rafter