PIX Financial Fix: Strategies to curb your healthcare spending

PIX11 Morning News
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Medical expenses can often break the bank. A $400 bill on an out-of-network examination or extra expenses on your yearly physical can ruin your monthly and yearly budget.

Lynya Floyd, Family Circle health director, provides tips on how to save on medical expenses in this week’s PIX Financial Fix.

SAVING STRATEGY #1: READ THE FINE PRINT

What you’re already doing: You know the ins and outs of your favorite store’s return or rewards policy; you should also fully understand your insurance plan.

Your savings Rx:

  • Study your deductible, co-pays, out-of-network costs and which drugs are covered by your plan.
  • Check in early with your insurance company to confirm that any referrals, products or services are covered and in-network.
  • This could mean the difference between paying $25 for a co-pay vs. $500!

SAVING STRATEGY #2: CHECK PRICES

What you’re already doing: You scout out costs in advance with weekly circulars. But medical prices vary — a procedure that’s $1000 at one place could be $3000 across the street.

Your savings Rx:

  • Research ahead of time through your insurance provider or check out sites that give you a “fair price” estimate of what you can expect to pay in your area.
  • You’ll be better prepared to budget – or negotiate – if necessary.

SAVING STRATEGY #3: BARGAIN

What you’re already doing: You’re used to negotiating prices when you’re at the dealership or thrift store. Even when it comes to health care, you shouldn’t be intimidated to ask for better rates.

Your savings Rx:

  • When going out-of-network, or if uninsured, call the billing office in advance to ask for a written estimate.
  • If it’s higher than the price you researched, ask them to meet that lower rate or request at least 35% off billed charges.
  • Ask the doctor or hospital if they offer “prompt pay” discounts for payments made in full, usually within two weeks of getting your bill. You may end up saving over 50%.

SAVING STRATEGY #4: UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS

What you’re already doing: Just like you wouldn’t head to the priciest grocery store in town just because you couldn’t find avocados in your usual spot, don’t take your kid to the emergency room when she has a fever.

Your savings Rx:

  • For most people, going to a clinic or urgent care center will cost significantly less than the ER for the majority of non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

SAVING STRATEGY #5: GO DIGITAL

What you’re already doing: You have your favorite apps for coupons and sales alerts. There are also options to help you make affordable choices for your family’s healthcare.

Your savings Rx:

  • Apps like Doctor On Demand and HealthTap let you text or video chat with a doctor for a fee that’s similar to a co-pay.
  • Not a replacement for an in-person visit, but still a time and cost effective way to get answers for non-urgent concerns like a bad cough or rash.
  • GoodRx finds the lowest prices on specific drugs in your zip code.

SAVING STRATEGY #6: REAP THE REWARDS

What you’re already doing: Love the feeling of racking up points to nab future discounts and freebies? Enjoy the same sweet incentives for getting in shape … no spending required.

Your savings Rx:

  • Many employers and insurance providers reward employees / members who work toward wellness goals like healthy eating and regular exercise.
  • Typical prizes might be a fitness tracker, movie tickets, even hotel stays. Fun perks + a healthier you = win-win!

SAVING STRATEGY #7: CHECK THE MATH

What you’re already doing: You’re protective of your spending, so give your next medical bill a second or third look since errors are common.

Your savings Rx:

  • Google billing codes to make sure you were charged correctly for the services you received.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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