We all like to save a little money. From Black Friday deals to BOGO specials at the grocery store, trimming excess expenses feels good.
Many don’t realize there also are opportunities to stay healthy while cutting medical expenses. Here are four ways to trim your health care budget:
- Avoid the ER – The emergency room is the most expensive place to receive treatment and should only be used when you truly have an emergency. Urgent care and walk-in clinics cost a fraction of a trip to the ER. They’re ideal for conditions such as sprains, colds, flu-like symptoms, rashes, animal bites and minor broken bones like fingers and toes. Here in Central Florida, GuideWell Emergency Doctors is a great lower-cost alternative to the ER because it’s priced like an urgent care while able to treat both minor and more serious health concerns with board-certified emergency doctors, on-site labs, EKG, radiology and more.
- Ask about Lower-Cost Medications – For some conditions there may be several medications that do the same thing but have drastically different prices. Ask your doctor if there’s a generic or lower-cost alternative to your expensive brand name medications. Some pharmacies may offer certain generic medications at no cost. You also can save money with most insurers by ordering a 90-day supply through the mail.
- Use Free Preventive Care Benefits – Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans pay the full cost of several preventive care services including a yearly checkup, flu shots and other routine vaccinations, and blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests. Depending on your age, cancer screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies are also covered. Getting regular checkups is a good way to identify and address possible medical issues before they become more severe (and more costly.)
- Shop Around – You shop around for other pricy items, so why not health services? Your costs for a medical service may vary greatly depending on where it’s performed, which is why it’s important to shop around beforehand. For starters, make sure you always go to a doctor or facility that is in your insurance plan’s network. Next, investigate how much you will be responsible for at different locations. Florida Blue members can visit the member website or app to search for pricing and quality information of nearby facilities for services such as MRIs, common surgeries and office visits.
Health care can be expensive, but you may save hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars this year if you just follow these four suggestions.
Carol Lemerond, ARNP is a nurse practitioner at the Florida Blue Center in Winter Park Village, where she teaches free health and wellness classes that are open to the public in addition to providing health coaching and assessments.