Now more than ever, families are in a tough spot with healthcare. Not only are monthly premiums expensive, but many insurance policies often don’t cover the things your family needs most, forcing you to pay extra for full health coverage.
Fortunately, making just a few simple tweaks with your family’s approach to healthcare can save you hundreds to thousands per year.
Find an Insurance Policy with Extras
Many people look at the cost of a monthly premium rather than what’s included with an insurance policy. This can be a drastic mistake because you may be saving a few dollars per month but missing out on some extras that could save you a lot of money all year.
Some policies, for example, include a free 24/7 nurse hotline that can help answer important questions. You might call the hotline to explain your child’s flu-like symptoms to see if you may need to visit the doctor or can skip a visit and save money. Other policies may even pay for your gym membership or alternative therapies. Always read through the full terms of a policy and consider how its benefits may outweigh a small additional monthly cost for the long-term.
Negotiate with Doctors
You don’t have to accept immediately the prices your doctor’s office gives you for services. After all, it’s your family’s health and your money, so you should have some control over your healthcare and its cost.
Check the local rates for services your doctor may need to perform on you or a family member, like an x-ray or blood draw, before agreeing to anything, and always ask for prices from your doctor. If any price seems too high, be sure to make him aware of other prices you found and be prepared to negotiate it down.
There’s no harm being upfront with your doctor about what you can and can’t afford; in fact, it can help you lower your bill. Just make sure you do it before your doctor performs any services, so all negotiations are out of the way and you’re both on the same page. You might be surprised how willing your doctor is to cooperate with some price cuts.
You can also ask your doctor to prescribe generic brands of medications, if necessary. Bring your insurance information with you to your appointment so you can show your doctor the prescriptions your insurance covers. He should then be able to choose a medication that fits better within your budget.
Purchase Glasses Online
When you get a prescription for glasses, your optometrist or ophthalmologist likely makes you feel obligated to purchase your glasses in his office. However, you’re under no obligation to purchase glasses there and can, instead, ask for your prescription information and leave.
You can easily save hundreds on your family’s prescription glasses by shopping online. Online eyewear retailers, like GlassesShop.com and Glasses.com, almost always offer special coupons and promotions year-round on prescription eyewear, including sunglasses. If you don’t have vision coverage on your health insurance policy, your wallet will thank you for purchasing glasses online.
Skip the Emergency Room
Your doctor isn’t available on the weekend, and your three-year-old woke up with a dreadful cough, high fever, and upset stomach on a Saturday morning. Your first thought is probably to rush to the emergency room without considering the potential cost of that visit.
In addition to your co-pay, which is usually about $50 to $100 for an emergency room visit, you may have to pay a percentage of the full bill for coinsurance, which can be anywhere from 10% to 50%. Add up the fees for all the doctors your child sees and services or testing he gets, and you’re easily looking at paying hundreds for one visit.
Instead, look for free clinics or urgent care providers in your area. Even if you have to drive a bit to reach one, think of all the money you’ll save on a smaller co-pay, and most procedures are covered by insurance. Plus, you’ll likely save a lot of time, even with the drive.