Healthcare, Smart Spending

How to Find Affordable Health Care: Part II

The last post talked about insurance options. This post deals with ways to cut your health care expenses if you do not have insurance or have insurance that is “catastrophic” meaning you have a very high deductible.

Keeping Your Bills Low

If you can’t afford any health insurance or have a high deductible plan, you need to keep your health care costs as low as you can. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Urgent Care

If you feel ill suddenly or injure yourself, avoid the hospital emergency room. An ER is the most expensive place you can go for primary care. So, if you come down with the flu or sprain your wrist visit an “Urgent Care Center.” These are in the phone book and offer primary care that may be given by a physician’s assistant or a Nurse Practioner. The cost is a fraction of what the ER charges. But, if you have a serious illness, they will call for an ambulance or send you to the nearest ER.

Local Pharmacy

It is far less expensive to visit your local pharmacy to get a flu shot or other preventive services than a doctor is. If you choose to get a flu shot from a pharmacy in your supermarket, you can get a discount on food purchases for that day of up to 20 percent.

Ask for Samples

If the doctor starts you on a new medication, ask for samples. Physicians have tons of samples to give to patients. If the medicine is only for a short period time, you might get enough to avoid a pharmacy bill. If you will be on it long-term, you can at least try it out and make sure it works and has no side effects that are bothersome.

Call the Manufacturer

If you have no insurance and your medicine is too costly for you call the manufacturer. Most pharmaceutical companies have a patient help program where you can get a medicine they make for a steep discount or free. Each company is different but the programs are all confidential.

Get a Discount Drug Card

Go here for more information on how to get a free discount drug card.

Buy Generics

Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as brand name drugs but are much cheaper. Target, Walmart and many other retail chains offer hundreds of generics for $4 for a 30-day supply or $10 for three months.

Most of these tips will save you some money even if you have great insurance. But, if you have catastrophic insurance or no insurance at all these suggestions can definitely  make a difference in the amount you pay out of your own pocket.