Health care costs are higher every year. For the last six years, costs have gone up an average of nine percent annually! But you don’t have to just take the costs — there are ways to save money on health care without missing out on the treatments, tests, and medications you need.
- Shop around for tests. Different labs and clinics can have very different prices for the same tests; for example, a CT scan can cost anywhere between $500 and $1500. Shopping around can save you between 20 and 66% on the cost of a test. What you need to know is the CPT code — the current procedural terminology — for the test your doctor has ordered. This is a number that is universally used for a particular billable service. Once you have the CPT, you can visit the American Medical Association website and use the code to get price quotes from different providers.
- Get your lab work done independently. Blood tests and urine analysis can be quickly and easily handled outside your doctor’s office — and may save you some cash. You’ll need a prescription from your doc for the particular test. Ask your doctor about the reliability of results from an “outside” lab; there may be more than one option in your area.
- Question the need for follow up appointments. If your doctor wants to see you again in a few weeks or months, ask why. Do you really need to go into the office, or would a phone call suffice? A phone call can save the doctor some time and save you some money.
- Bring your test results with you. According to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, seventeen percent of adults say their doctors ordered duplicate tests. If you’re looking for a second opinion, bring your test results with you. You can usually sign out test results, x-rays, and scans from your doctor’s office.
- Shop around for health insurance. You can compare car insurance quotes online; why not health insurance? Sites like ehealthinsurance.com and vimo.com will let you look at price and coverage comparisons in your area. Just talk to an actual representative when you sign up for a plan — having a specific person to talk to with questions is always a good thing.