9 Ways to Save Money On Your Healthcare Costs

Big deductibles. Higher co-pays. Skyrocketing premiums. Whether you get your insurance through work, buy it yourself, or don’t have insurance at all, we’re all paying more for our medical care these days.

Faced with steeper costs, some people are skipping treatments or postponing doctor visits. Don’t let the high cost of medical care hurt your health. Here are nine ways to save money and stay healthy.

1. Shop Your Doctors and Treatments

Because healthcare costs have risen, most of us are paying higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. But only 3 percent of us have tried to trim what we contribute out of pocket by comparison shopping our healthcare—i.e., finding out in advance what different doctors charge for, say, an MRI or knee replacement surgery. One reason: Consumers don’t know that doctors’ fee information is easy to find using the “cost-estimator” tools on most health insurance websites. You can also use third-party sites, such as HealthcareBluebook.com, FAIRHealthConsumer.org, Guroo.com, and Amino.com. Consumer Reports analyzed tools offered by major insurance companies as well as eight standalone sites based on qualities such as ease of use, functionality, and reliability. See the ratings here.

2. Know What’s Free

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, nearly all of us who have insurance are entitled to certain preventive services free of charge, as long as we stay in our insurance network. What you can get for no cost may surprise you: blood pressure testing, breast-feeding support, colonoscopies, depression screening, nutrition counseling, and vaccinations. Check out the full list of eligible services at healthcare.gov.

3. Take Advantage of Drugstore Discounts

Stores such as Kmart, Sam’s Club, and Walmart offer hundreds of common generic drugs at very low prices—sometimes as low as $4 to $10—which could be less than your insurance co-pay. Ask the pharmacist whether the store has a discount program. Note: Money spent on meds purchased using these discount programs doesn’t go toward your insurance deductible.

4. Beware of Pricey Combo Drugs

When the patent on a drug nears its end, some manufacturers reformulate the medication into something “new” they can price higher than the generic equivalent. For example, the expensive migraine drug Treximet is actually a combination of two older, low-cost generic drugs: sumatriptan and naproxen. Nine tablets of 85-500 mg Treximet cost $695 at healthwarehouse.com. But the same website offers nine 100 mg tablets of sumatriptan for less than $16 and nine 500 mg naproxen tablets for about $5. That’s a savings of $674.

5. Ask Your Doctor: ‘How Much Does This Drug Cost?’

A CR poll of 200 doctors in 2016 found that they generally don’t discuss the cost of a drug with their patients. But if price is an obstacle for you and you let your doctor know that, he or she can look up the drug’s cost and, if necessary, help you find a more affordable alternative, such as the medication’s generic equivalent…

Read full story at ConsumerReports.org

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