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Reducing Health Care Costs

by Guest

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The guest post is by Erinn Springer who works at  GoHealthInsurance.com- an online exchange that allows consumers to compare health insurance quotes and talk to insurance agents within minutes.

Health insurance plans can be expensive if consumers do not spend time researching. The following tips can help consumers find affordable insurance and reduce health care costs:

Know what is included in the health insurance plan
Have a good understanding of your policy and what is included in it. Feel free to ask your doctor questions about treatment costs and other alternative treatments. Physicians may change treatments depending on cost.

Consumers have to be familiar with the network that their health insurance plans cover. Otherwise, they can potentially spend out-of-pocket money for a trip to the doctor or hospital. Avoiding any kind of out-of-network visits will keep costs down; consumers are charged more for out-of-network visits that aren’t planned. Some insurance companies will allow consumers to negotiate out-of-network cost.

Avoid hospital and emergency room trips when in-network doctors are available. Emergency room visits get expensive fast and many times a trip to a medical clinic or doctor could be cheaper and as effective.

Shop around
Consumers can compare health insurance quotes between carriers to find more affordable coverage and the best options.

Also frequenting hospitals that charge less will help consumers save money in the long run, so consumers should research the network that their health insurance plan covers.

Reassess health insurance plans every year
It is important to contact your insurance agent to modify your health insurance policy when requisites change between the years.

Young and healthy consumers may decide it is cheaper to pay higher deductibles and lower premiums. However as people age, they should talk to their insurance agents to make sure that it is the best decision.

Also check health insurance companies for changes in policies and networks. Consumers may be able to change to more affordable networks with the insurer.

Editor’s Note: Erinn doesn’t mention the opportunity to save on health care costs with lifestyle changes and preventative care.  Eating healthy, being at a normal weight, regular exercise and not smoking are just a few of the behavioral factors that can prevent or reduce health care needs.  Having regular checkups and other preventive measures can catch problems before they get worse or thwart them altogether.

photo credit: mag3737

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jersey Mom April 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Some doctors I know told me that they do get annoyed with frequent visits from patients who have unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking excessively, diabetics who eat too much candy, etc)…
.-= Jersey Mom´s last blog ..Nanny or Me =-.

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Bucksome April 15, 2010 at 5:45 am

I’m sure! My father-in-law is one of those patients. (Heck, I’m one of those when it comes to weight and exercise.)

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff April 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I think your first point, knowing your plan, is definitely the most important. It took me a couple of months after I enrolled to really understand what my company health plan covered.
.-= Budgeting in the Fun Stuff´s last blog ..BFS has a Guest Post about the Average Middle Class at Funny about Money =-.

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Bucksome April 15, 2010 at 5:41 am

Budgeting, agreed as you don’t want to be surprised when the bill arrives.

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Mr. Not Made Of Money April 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Good post. I recommend shopping around a couple times a year. Another way to save is most health insurance plans have a method for pre-evaluating the cost of each medical procedure. It is amazing the differences in cost for the same procedure at different medical providers.
.-= Mr. Not Made Of Money´s last blog ..How to Save Money When Buying Plane Tickets =-.

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Bucksome April 15, 2010 at 5:40 am

That’s a great idea to shop around. I think insurance is one of those things people don’t think about changing.

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dr dean April 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

Shopping around is a good idea on any recurring costs. In general, it is not done enough, with any insurance product.

Your comments about prevention are “dead” on……

We don’t negotiate fee’s as most are actually now contractually determined by the health insurer-grumble, grumble.
We do offer discounts for cash paying customers, however.
.-= dr dean´s last blog ..Roth vs Traditional IRA’s: A Video Discussion =-.

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Bucksome April 16, 2010 at 5:54 am

Thank you for the physician perspective. Would you say negotiation is an option for elective procedures not covered by insurance?

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Guy G. April 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Hey,
I used to work closely with a chiropractor who said that they’ve done studies that people who seek alternative therapies like massage, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, etc. are less likely to need traditional medical services and especially less likely to undergo major surgeries.

So, stay fit and take care of yourself.
.-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Grocery Saving Tips – Tips on Budgeting =-.

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Bucksome April 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Guy, I do think alternative medicine is healthy. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not cover them. I can’t even claim massage therapy with my FSA without a physician’s prescription.

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Guy G. April 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Hey Bucksome,
You’re not the only one. Why do they do that. Massage Therapy is a regulated Health Care Profession here in Ontario and they are able to do assessments. Most physicians would rather prescribe some pain medication because they get a kick back from the pharmaceutical companies.

Oh well, at least they’ll allow massage therapy with the prescription and it lasts for a few months or a certain number of treatments?
.-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Grocery Saving Tips – Tips on Budgeting =-.

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Bucksome April 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I’ve been too chicken to ask my doctor for a prescription. I don’t have any serious medical reason just makes my back feel much better!

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Guy G. April 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I don’t think you have to have major problems. I think that if you have a forward thinking enough doctor, they should be okay giving you a prescription for “muscular tension” even if you tell him/her that you’re stressed, get the odd headache, or are even just interested in preventative therapy.
If not, you may benefit from looking for a new doctor.
Also important to note, some medical plans will accept a chiropractic doctor’s prescription. So, if you see a chiropractor (usually covered but doesn’t need a prescription) you may ask them for the referral.

If all that fails, and you have something of value to add to a massage therapist (seo for their website or a backlink…) you may try to barter.

Do what you can to get it, your body will thank you.
.-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Grocery Saving Tips – Tips on Budgeting =-.

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