The recession has not ended for you (and me) Healthcare is now a big ticket item. Welcome to America. Many of my fellow legal citizens are now suddenly paying all their health care costs. So you have to be very careful what you do spend. That incidentally is the key to real world medical cost containment. Everyone paying their own medical bills, via different means.
A list of ways to save on your medical care without health insurance
There are 9,000 community health centers in the U.S. that are mandated to accept you, and will either give you free care or will accept what you can pay. They provide the full scope of primary care (what you'd go to your regular doctor for) and often have dental services too.
The best way to save yourself, your health, and your money, is going for regular checkups, and going in early when you are sick, and not later when it's worse and you might infect others.
Health insurance is mostly for specialty care, which is much trickier and harder to get a price break on compared to primary care.
If you need a walker, wheelchair, reclining bed, or other piece of pricey medical equipment, ask people at your church, senior center, or social club of used equipment that they can sell or donate.
Negotiate your own rates. Doctors and hospitals have wiggle room on their high priced services. If you must pay cash, haggle.
Visit urgent-cares versus emergency-rooms. Some insurers charge you more for non-emergency visits to the ER, but many will waive most of your payment to an urgent care center.
Unless it's a true emergency, don't check yourself into a hospital on a weekend because many hospital departments aren't open on weekends, and most have reduced staffs, it will take longer to get treated. Schedule your visit for Monday asap.
You may be eligible to receive a comprehensive eye exam and care for up to a year through EyeCare America (run by the American Academy of Ophthalmology), if you are 65 or older, have not seen an eye doctor in 3 years, and do not belong to an HMO or have VA coverage.
The retail markup on eyeglass frames at eye doctors' offices or boutiques can be as high as 1,000%. The cheapest frames are available at large retail stores and optical chain stores, but they are not as well made. Because of the markup,
the price of the frames is very negotiable. If they won't lower the price, get something throw in. like an extended warranty, upgrades lens from plastic to lighter polycarbonate, or scratch resistant lenses.
Use independent facilities that tend to be lower-cost. When your doctor orders a lab test or x-ray, they write a request form and like a prescription, you should be able to have the test or service done at any facility.
Use preventive care
and screenings. This could apply to tests, mammograms and colonoscopies, flu shots, vaccines, well-baby and other preventive service.
See if you qualify for Medicare. New benefits include mammograms, screenings for cervical and colorectal cancer, flu shots, pneumonia shots, and an annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan
Find out if your large employer offers discounts for participating in wellness programs. They may give you cash if you participate in an exercise program, get a health assessment, tobacco-cessation programs, free weight-loss, and stress-reduction programs.
Its estimated that 85% of hospital bills contain errors. Inspect your itemized bill when you go to the hospital or have a major procedure. Inquire about unexplained charges especially when it's full of codes.
Don't let charges mount by ignoring a big medical bill you think is a mistake. Request a 30-day extension from health care providers to stop the collections while you examine the greek codes. Doctors and hospitals now use billing software that can send you to collections after 30 to 60
If you can't fix the medical bill on your own, hire a Claims Assistance Professional for $30 to $160 an hour, to can sort through your bills, identify errors, negotiate discounts or settlements, expedite payments and keep doctors, hospitals, insurers and collection agencies at bay. Some will charge a % of the amount they recover.
Get a cash discount. Some providers will cut your bill by 20% if you give them cash, and demand the insurer's negotiated rate.
Ask the hospital for a discount if you pay a lump sum right away. Tell them "this is all the amount of money I have." Offer 50% of the bill.
At Healthcare Blue Book. At healthcarebluebook.com you can find fair prices for surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits and medical tests, based on the average fee that providers in your area accept as payment from insurers. The site also provides money-saving tips for each procedure and a pricing agreement that makes it easier to negotiate with out-of-network providers.
Use medical cost-saving apps for your iPhone or Android phone. I use itriage. Some let you look up the cost of a medication and lower-cost alternatives -- then inquire before you leave the doctor's office.