April 18, 2018
Obviously, if you’re involved in a serious accident or suffer emergency care due to illness, you have very little control over the cost of health care services rendered. Other than these instances, however, discretionary health care spending strategies can save you considerable money in your health care expenses.
Here are 3 ways to reduce your out-of-pocket health care costs.
1. Independent free-standing diagnostic imaging facilities
Diagnostic imaging (e.g. MRI, CT scans, P.E.T. scans, etc.) is one of the fastest rising categories of medical expense. When your physician wants you to have imaging services, schedule your scan at a free-standing facility (e.g. Smart Choice MRI, Medical Diagnostic Imaging, etc.), rather than the hospital.
An MRI in the hospital could cost up to $2,600, whereas free-standing facilities might only charge $600, or less. There is no reduction in quality either. Free-standing facilities such as Smart Choice MRI use state-of-the-art GE scanners, and use Cleveland Clinic radiologists to interpret your results. Most insurers have Smart Choice MRI as in-network providers.
2. Prescription discount arrangements
Prescription medications are another considerable part of many people’s health care spend. Several providers (e.g. Costco, Walmart, Walgreens, etc.) offer consumers considerable savings if their drug is on one of the preferred or generic formulary lists. These programs can be used instead of running the charge through insurance.
When looking for the lowest prescription cost always ask for the “best cash price” first, then check the cost under your insurance plan. Some of these provider’s preferred or generic formularies best cash price (not through your insurance) might cost $5-$7 for a 30 day supply. Even though this is a private pay expense, it’s still far less out-of-pocket expense than most insurance company prescription copays.
Two other non-insurance prescription websites to check which often offer dramatic discounts are GoodRx.com, and HealthWarehouse.com. Another option is to contact your drug manufacturer and request a discount coupon.
Consumer Reports’ secret shop of pharmacies. View
3. Walk-In quick clinics
For non-emergency symptoms, patients can save out-of-pocket expenses by avoiding the emergency room, and in some cases even the urgent care center, by finding a quick care clinic conveniently located in pharmacies or stores in their own neighborhoods. No appointment is necessary and these clinics are usually staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants. In Wisconsin, for example, there are eight AuroraQuickCare Clinics, many of which are located within a Walgreens pharmacy.
Patients can get a quick, affordable diagnosis for common health concerns, such as bronchitis, ear infections, pink eye, influenza, sinus infection, rashes, etc. Vaccines and other screenings (camp physicals, TB testing, etc.) are also available at these clinics.
At a cost of $70 or less for the clinic visit, even if this charge were not run through insurance, it will almost always be less than a member’s out-of-pocket deductible and coinsurance costs incurred at an urgent care center, and certainly less than an emergency room visit.
If you would like more health insurance tips or information please contact our team.
Post written by Mike Haessler.