Think you’re doing all you can to reduce costs when you need medical help? Believe it or not, you can save even more by simply asking these questions.
To save on urgent care
Not sureif your symptoms warrant an ER visit? Ask, “Can a teledoc diagnose and treat it remotely first?” You can save hundreds of dollars and hours of wait time plus avoid germ exposure by “seeing” a doctor via live video chat or phone call. They can assess your symptoms, order tests, provide prescriptions and advise whether it’s best for you to get treated at an urgent-care clinic or hospital or rideit out at home. Most insurances offer access to teledocs and cover most, if not all, of the cost. No insurance? You can pay a flat feestarting at $49 at Teladoc.com or 800-TEL-ADOC.
To sidestep overpricing
Have a medical issuethat needs to be addressed in person (like needing an X-ray of your wrist after a fall)? Before you head to an urgent care, call them and ask, “Is this a ‘freestanding emergency room?’” These are health facilities that look like, and providesimilar care as, urgent-care clinics, but they’re actually mini ERs and can charge up to 22 times what a doctor charges and up to 19 times what an urgent-care clinic charges. This can turn a $160 bill into a $3,000 one, so asking that question in advance can save you thousands.
To avoid sneaky charges
Before you get X-rays, tests or medical procedures, ask, “Iseveryoneinvolved in my carein-network?” Onestudy found that onein five patients receives a surprise bill for an out-of-network provider (like an anesthesiologist) at an average of $2,011 and as high as $19,000! “Out-of-network providers can ask for morethan therate agreed upon by your insurer, then charge you the balance,” says Carolyn McClanahan, M.D., an ER physician turned financial planner. Her tip: Writing No outof-network providers on admission forms will help refutethesefees if you do get them!
To spend less on an Rx
Studies show thousands of prescription medication prices soared by 10% in 2019, and others spiked by 100% or more! So when filling a prescription, ask the pharmacist, “Is this thelowest price?” He or she may be aware of ways you can save, but they don’t haveto tell you unless you ask! They may advise you to pay out of pocket since many commonly used drugs cost less than your copay. Or they’ll tell you about programs (like ones found at RxAssist.org) that help cover the cost of your meds via coupons or copay assistance.