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Putting a lid on healthcare costs

With many changes occurring in the healthcare system today, you may feel as if you have little or no control over the cost of care. In fact, you can save dollars by taking some simple steps:

  1. Focus on prevention. See your healthcare provider for annual physicals, get routine tests and keep immunizations up to date. Staying on top of your well care can help keep illness at bay or at least catch a problem at its earliest, most treatable and least expensive stage.
  2. Find out the cost of care. Don’t be shy about asking how much a specific service, test or treatment will cost in total or out of pocket. If you’re not comfortable with the price, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce the cost or about setting up a payment plan.
  3. Keep a medical file. Record the dates of service, the healthcare provider’s name, the lab tests you received and copies of the test results, and any diagnosis or prescription information. Record the fees and charges that apply as well.
  4. Check bills and insurance statements against your records. Errors are not uncommon, and when they happen you’ll be sure to catch them.
  5. Don’t get tested twice. If you’re like many women, you probably see a primary care provider and an Ob/Gyn. But don’t let them duplicate tests, such as urinalysis or cholesterol checks. Ask your primary care provider to coordinate your lab tests and to relay information to your other providers.
  6. Understand your coverage and your responsibilities. Read your insurance literature carefully and make sure you fully understand which services are covered and which require pre-approval. Getting care that is not pre-approved may cost you dearly. If you’re unsure about coverage, call your healthcare plan for further clarification.
  7. Ask about generics. Generic drugs cost less than branded drugs and are usually just as effective. So ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you can safely substitute a generic version of a prescription drug. Try generic versions of over-the-counter drugs, too, such as aspirin and acetaminophen.