Lowering Your Health Care Costs

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Topic Overview

Getting great care at a lower price is possible. Just like when you shop for food or clothes, there are things you can do to lower your health care costs.

Save by taking charge of your health

  • Protect your health with a healthy lifestyle. Here are some things you can do to take charge of your health:
    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
    • Get active.
    • Get immunized.
    • Don't smoke.
    • Make safety a priority.
    • Manage stress.
  • Tell your doctor that you care about how much your treatment, medicines, or medical tests cost. Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to get great care at lower costs.
  • Get health care when you need it. Ignoring problems can lead to expensive complications.
  • If you have health insurance, find out if your plan will pay more for your health care costs when you go to their preferred list of providers.
  • Review your health care bills. Ask questions about what you don't understand.
  • If your employer offers a wellness program, you may be able to lower your insurance costs and at the same time do things that are good for your health.

Save on medicines

  • Ask for medicines that cost less but that work just as well.
  • Ask your doctor for free samples if you are trying a new medicine.
  • Find out if there are generic versions of the medicines you take.
  • Shop around for the best deal on medicines. Costs can vary from drugstore to drugstore.
  • Find out about discount and patient-assistance programs. To learn more about these programs, look online at RxAssist (www.rxassist.org) or at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (www.pparx.org).
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about pill splitting. In some cases, buying pills at double the dosage costs the same or nearly the same as the lower dose. By splitting the larger dose in half, you can get two doses for the price of one.
  • See if the drug company that makes your medicine offers coupons or discounts.

Save on medical tests

  • Shop around for the best deal on where to have a medical test. The cost of some testing can vary among labs or facilities without any difference in how reliable the results are.
  • Be sure you know how to prepare for the test. This can reduce the chance of errors and the need to repeat the test.
  • Don't have tests more often than you need to. If you have a health problem that requires frequent tests and you are worried about the cost, tell your doctor. Maybe you can go a little longer between tests. Maybe you can have a less costly test some of the time and the more expensive one less often.
  • Keep a copy of the full test results. Having the results helps you better understand what's going on with your health. And if you see another doctor, you can provide a copy. Then you may not have to repeat a test.

Save the emergency room for emergencies

If you think you are having a medical emergency, go to the ER. If you're not sure, you can call your doctor's office first or go to a walk-in clinic.

Many health problems are not emergencies. Your visit will cost a lot more in time and money in the ER than it would at a doctor's office or walk-in clinic. A trip to the ER for an earache, for example, may cost 3 to 4 times as much as it would at your doctor's office. If it turns out you are having a true medical emergency, a walk-in clinic will send you to the ER.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofAugust 14, 2016

Current as of: August 14, 2016