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Secrets to Saving on Medical Costs

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Did you know that there are ways to save even within the field of medical services? With such a large family, our medical costs are astronomical, really, so I have started digging deeper to find ways to be frugal even when it comes to hospital visits and maintenance medications.

Just like anything, a little goes a long way and the savings really do add up. It seems like the costs for prescriptions and medical care continues to rise here in America, including the costs of premiums. In the past three years alone our premiums have increased more that 300% and my deductible has tripled as well. For at least the first six months of the year I am paying everything out of pocket for this reason.

In needing to adhere to our commitment to living on less than we make, I have had to look for all kinds of ways to save money in the medical field, and I’ve got some great ideas to share.

Here are secrets to saving on medical costs that could save you some serious money!

medical costs

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Prescriptions

I have both my husband and my son on maintenance medications right now and when I am pregnant I am, too, so this is something that I have spent a ton of time on looking for savings.  With the rising costs of everything medical, every penny counts, and our prescriptions are our highest cost within the medical care we receive.

***For years I played the prescription game. The coupons are so much more difficult to find these days, but when you can find coupons from stores offering an incentive for a new or transferred prescription, it will almost always be a good deal for you. There were years when I would go back and forth between two pharmacies every month on a monthly prescription, earning a $25 gift card each time. At that time, several pharmacies also accepted competitor’s coupons, so even if you had a coupon for Walgreens, you could use it somewhere else. One year, I “made” over $500 doing this. It takes a bit more time and effort to go from place to place, but it was well worth it to me.

***Before filling a prescription, always call around to various pharmacies to price shop. Not all pharmacies are the same, and they can differ from month to month. What you will pay at one pharmacy one month may be totally different from what you would pay the next. It depends on what each pharmacy may have worked out with drug manufacturer, but prices can vary greatly between pharmacies and between differing months. Check every time. It is often worth your while.

***When you are calling around to price shop, ask them outright if they offer an incentive for your prescription, especially if you have more than prescription to fill. It greatly benefits them to give you some sort of incentive in most cases. Always ask, every time.

I am generally very bold and ask something like, “I have to have these filled somewhere, is transferring my business to you worth offering me an incentive to go though this hassle?” You may be surprised at the answer. Even if they don’t offer something normally, they may if they are asked. Also ask if they offer any type of loyalty program for repeated business. It never hurts to ask, this is generally one of the mottos that I live by.

***Don’t assume that stores like Sam’s Club or Costco are cheaper on prescriptions. Sometimes they are, but in my case, I have not found this. Just as with shopping as I mentioned here, don’t assume these stores are always cheaper.

***The mail order pharmacy is not always cheapest either. You really would think they would be, especially when ordering a 90 day supply, but my son’s medication is cheaper at an actual pharmacy – at least it has been so far whether I am filling it for 90 days or for 30.

***Decide if the 30 day supply is cheaper or if it is the 90 day supply that is cheaper. This one will surprise me from time to time. Again, it’s not always the 90 day supply that comes out on top.

Medical care

***I was so bummed when I found out about this because I paid so many bills in full prior to this, but, I will share this secret with you.  It is huge.

I have had several hospitals and some doctor’s offices offer up to a 20 percent discount on what is owed by paying my portion of the bill in full, right away. 

New legislation dictates that you not involve insurance at all, but there have been many times where I will be paying out of my pocket and not be even close to reaching my deductible for the year so it is cheaper for me to be “uninsured” in these cases in order to get this 20% discount.

Often this is referred to as something like a “prompt pay discount.” I have had this offered with every hospital and lab in our area. Doctor’s offices have been hit or miss, but I always ask.

***If you have a large amount owed to an office, lab, or medical facility, you can also ask if there is something that can be done. At times they are willing to work with you not necessarily from a “prompt pay” standpoint, but from a generosity standpoint. With our bills being as high as they are, I have no problem seeing what can be worked out if I have a large bill due. You might be surprised to find that some of your doctors or facilities are willing to give a little on larger sums.

***When a doctor is prescribing a medication or even a procedure, I always inform them that we have to also take into account what is most cost effective. Sometimes I don’t think doctors even think about things from a cost perspective, but they always do when I point this out. I have often had doctors offer me samples or coupons for prescriptions when I ask them to keep my pocketbook in mind. I have also had them take care of something in a different way, which was just as effective, but most more cost effective. In my experience, they have been more than willing to help where and when they can.

In this economy, I think most people are feeling the strain, and medical costs can throw such a wrench into a family’s budget, but, they don’t have to.  Try these tricks out for yourself, and you could be saving a bundle.

If you have tried these before or have anything to add, I would love to hear in the comments.

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