As we head towards full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the minions against Obamacare are flooding the public with information about how much more expensive health care insurance and health care will be. On the other hand, supporters of the new health care law assure us that health insurance costs will decline and the brakes have finally been applied to the cost of medical care. Someone is wrong, but that is for another day. Today, find out how to lower your own health care costs with five simple measures.
Measure 1: Choose Your Health Care Provider with Care
For health care insurance rates and the cost of medical care to stabilize and decrease it will take the cost of medical care to decline.
If you’re insured or not and need urgent medical care, the most expensive provider you can choose is the hospital emergency room. Not too long ago I suggested that uninsured patients would do best if they went to “retail” medical providers for treatment of non-life threatening illness and injury. That same advice is applicable to folks with a sudden onset of illness or an injury and they cannot get an appointment with their doctor.
Measure 2: Insurance Deductible Management
Nowadays, more and more folks have high deductible medical insurance. Informed health care economists urge that if you have this kind of insurance you schedule your medical treatments in the same deductible year. This way, you limit the impact the deductible will have on you the following year, as your routine care and any other care for medical issues has already been done. Smart medical shoppers look at their deductible and figure out how to maximize it.
Measure 3: Fund and Use a Health Savings Account
Recently I wrote extensively about Health Savings Accounts, but many consumers shy away from them as they fear they will fund more than they need or worse, lose the excess at year-end. These fears are misplaced as HAS money can be rolled over from year to year. Other benefits are that the money in an HAS account can be applied towards co-insurance and co-pays. Using your HAS for these expenses makes them a tax write off allowing you to save substantial amounts of money.
Measure 4: Grill Your Doctor as if He Were a Used Car Salesman
Most of us were brought up with the Norman Rockwell view of our doctor as being super human. His diagnosis cannot be wrong and his treatment is what we should blindly follow. This attitude can be dangerous to your health and very expensive!
Question your physician about treatment costs and ask about the benefits and costs of alternative treatment.
Also, the medical industry has a lot of repetition, especially in testing. Ask the doctor why he is ordering a series of tests that you recently had. Why aren’t the prior results valid?
Your provider may hem and haw and give unclear answers – but if questioned enough pressure increases on all health providers to stop wasteful duplication of tests.
Measure 5: Take Responsibility for Your Health
If you stay healthy, the only time you need a doctor is for your annual checkup. The easiest way to reduce health care costs is to stay healthy as an individual and a society. Appropriate preventive screenings, complying with your medications, eating healthy, and exercising not only leaves you feeling good – it keeps you out of the doctor’s office. So, you save money on your deductibles and co-pays. Guidelines are available for appropriate screenings at specific ages and be obtained from your insurance company. Follow their suggestions.