With the economy quickly going downhill, job loss and the loss of employer provided insurance will probably increase in some communities. Since I’ve been through that very experience, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about saving money on medical expenses. A lot of this will apply to those with insurance, too, but it will be especially helpful for those without.
Look into Buying Your Own Insurance
If you’re healthy and have no pre-existing conditions, buying your own insurance is a great option. Make sure you work with a licensed insurance agent in your state, though, because there are some companies that will only give you headaches. Your insurance agent will know which companies to avoid.
A high deductible policy isn’t very expensive, and it’s better than having no insurance at all.
The big problem with buying your own insurance is that if you’ve ever had a medical problem, you’re likely to be denied. I was denied on the basis of my migraine headaches, even though they’ve lessened to the point where I don’t take prescription medication anymore.
If you have children, it may be possible to buy inexpensive insurance through their schools. It may not be the best insurance, but again, it’s better than nothing.
Avoid the Emergency Room
Emergency rooms are expensive. A lot of uninsured people go to the emergency room instead of seeing a doctor. Unless you have absolutely no money to pay the bill though (I believe emergency rooms have to treat, regardless of ability to pay), the emergency room is not a frugal option.
The best option is to find a clinic that works on a sliding scale fee structure. If you don’t have one in your area, call your regular doctor to see what you can work out. The two times we were without insurance, our doctor worked with us to provide low cost treatment for our medical issues. And the cost of a doctor’s visit is less than a trip to the emergency room.
If you take a brand name medication, ask the doctor if you can switch to a generic version. Walmart, Target, and an increasing number of pharmacies offer generic medication for $4 for a month’s supply. Many of these pharmacies are also offering 90 day supplies for $10. You can’t beat that!
When my husband was unemployed, I switched from a brand name medication to a generic. The generic worked better for me, and I loved the $4 price, so I never switched back to the brand name.
Above all, take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, and be careful. The best way to save money on healthcare is to not get sick. You can’t always prevent it, but there are many things you can do to decrease your chances of needing medical attention.
Do you have any tips for saving money on medical expenses?