Finding Ways to Reduce Your Healthcare Costs
by Nan Gibbons
In today’s struggling economy, healthcare costs are a major concern as families struggle with reduced wages, unemployment and the ever-increasing prices of goods. Many people are looking for ways to cut back on their expenses, but are at a loss as to how to save on their health.
You don’t want to sacrifice your well-being just to save money, but what if there are things you can do to reduce your expenses without compromising on your health? Shopping around and asking for deals, both on insurance and medical bills, can help you save money up-front. Keeping track of your regular healthcare expenses and keeping a health diary can let you see where you’re spending the most money. It can also make it easier for your doctor to find out what’s going on when you do get sick. In the end, there are many options for you if you’re trying to save money and stay healthy.
Find Deals on Insurance
Many employers provide healthcare coverage for full-time employees and are able to negotiate group discounts, which often leads to their services being less costly than private insurance. Sometimes, however, you can find lower rates by mixing healthcare providers or dropping certain types of coverage you might not need.
Some employers will even allow you to opt out of their group healthcare plans and might let you either keep the money you would otherwise contribute or put it towards your own plan. Look around and check out many health insurance quotes, taking special care to note cost and the availability of additional features that cost extra.
Negotiate with Healthcare Professionals
Many people don’t realize that their standard healthcare costs can be negotiated. That’s actually one of the reasons that health insurance providers are able to make money: they negotiate for lower prices on everything from prescription medication to office visits. You can use that to your advantage too, though it’s unlikely that you’ll get the same kind of discounts major insurance companies can offer.
Doctors charge different rates depending on the type of office visit you need and some will be willing to charge for a less expensive level if you ask them about it. If you’re legitimately struggling financially, this technique can be a lifesaver. Keep in mind that you’re not buying a used car, though, and that your doctor has to make money in order to continue providing services. Don’t be upset if they refuse to give you a discount or insist that you take the name brand medication rather than a generic brand.
Keep Track of Healthcare Costs
Many people are completely reactionary when it comes to their healthcare needs. They might switch to a diet of nutritious food after their doctor tells them they have high cholesterol or visit their physician when they get sick, but neglect any preventative measures, including regular physical examinations. Keep track of your visits to the doctor, including the general purpose of the visit and any advice or medications your doctor gave you. Also include visits to specialists, clinics or over-the-counter medication purchases.
Once you’ve tracked your healthcare costs, you can get a better picture of problems that seem to crop up regularly and you could discover trends that you can discuss with your doctor. If you seem to get sick at the same time every fall, you might actually suffer from seasonal allergies instead of a cold, for instance.
Keeping track of your health and your healthcare spending can help you manage the big picture better and could give your doctor valuable information that could be used to diagnose you more easily and reduce the amount of visits you need to take care of your health problems.
Eat According to Your Needs
Proper nutrition is a major part of your overall health. Eating well to save on healthcare costs and prevent illnesses is important, but you should also be sure to fit your diet to your physical needs. This likely won’t require any major adjustments, but it can provide a big boost to your ability to both prevent and recover from injuries.
If you’re physically active, particularly if you’re involved in sports or any type of weight training, eating the right types of nutrients will be key in preventing injury. If you’re running or biking, you’ll have an increased need for carbohydrates to provide endurance, but you need to take care not to neglect your needs for protein to maintain your muscles.
(Nan Gibbons is a fitness expert and marketer who loves traveling the world to advise at sporting events. When she’s stateside, she enjoys spending time volunteering at environmental organizations and spending time with her lab mix, Cody.)