If you are on a tight budget, there are a number of tips to help you save money on health care. These include avoiding the emergency room, seeking preventive care, and using a discount card. In addition, there are a number of ways to find doctors in your network that are less expensive.
Avoiding the emergency room
While emergency rooms can be the first place you go when you have a health emergency, they are not always necessary. Some insurance plans don’t cover emergency room visits, and some physicians in these situations may bill for services that aren’t covered by insurance. This is called balance billing, and it can cause a large bill when you don’t expect it.
While emergency room visits are expensive, there are other cheaper options available. Convenience care clinics and urgent care centers can provide care for much less than an emergency room visit. Visiting an emergency room costs an average of $1,757, while visiting an urgent care center can cost only $153. Some clinics are located right in drugstores and supermarkets, so knowing where to go can save you time and money.
There are several ways to lower healthcare costs, and preventive care is a proven way to save money. In fact, the CDC says that preventing one chronic disease like hypertension could save more than $25 billion over the next decade. Also, preventing an HIV infection can save a person around $355,000 over their lifetime. Ultimately, this means that health insurers should consider lowering their costs for preventive care and diagnostic testing.
For example, a yearly flu shot can reduce the risk of getting the flu by 60%. It also cuts the risk of serious flu symptoms and hospitalization. In addition, most health plans will cover these preventive services at 100 percent, so it makes sense to get these services as often as possible.
Finding doctors in the same area
One of the ways to save money on health insurance is to find doctors in your area who accept your health insurance plan’s preferred network. Narrow network plans usually have fewer doctors participating in the network. The cheapest of them may have less than 10 percent of your local doctors participating. In contrast, broad networks have as many as 70 percent of your doctors participating. When shopping for health insurance, it is essential to know the limits of your health plan and whether it will cover the care you need.
Most insurers offer health plans that include a list of providers in the network. A list of participating doctors can be found on your provider directory. If you live in a large metro area, it may be more affordable to find physicians in a large network. If you live in a small town, you may have to choose a doctor from a different network.
Using a discount card
Many individuals and families have seen an increase in the cost of healthcare, but there is a way to minimize this cost by using a discount card to buy their health coverage. These cards are free or inexpensive and can save you as much as 50% on the cost of a wide variety of medical services.
Discount cards are especially useful for people without health insurance. Using them to save money on health coverage can make a huge difference in the cost of prescriptions and preventive care. They are simple to use and do not count toward deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.
Avoiding out-of-network care
Choosing an in-network health care provider is important if you want to save money on health coverage. Out-of-network providers charge higher fees. If you choose an HMO or EPO plan, you will only pay a portion of the out-of-network cost. You can save more money by negotiating with providers to see if they will charge in-network rates.
Before you see a doctor, find out if your insurance provider participates in the network of providers. If you need emergency care, it’s important to choose a provider in your health plan’s network. Otherwise, you may wind up with a huge bill you cannot pay. However, if you have specialized needs and want to see the best doctors, you should consider out-of-network care.