Affordable health insurance has become ever harder to come by in recent years. The rise in the number of ns who are uninsured, as well as the shifting of health insurance from comprehensive coverage (e.g. HMOs) towards high-deductible plans and Health Savings Accounts, has led to an increased interest in the actual cost of medical care. In the past, most people have paid little attention to the prices hospitals charge for an MRI, for example. Fortunately, there are now many resources available to help you figure out how much health care expenses do and should cost. These tips will help save money for you and your insurance company! Health insurers may pass on their savings to you in the form of lower health insurance premiums. You can learn more at check it out.
Here are seven ways to shop smart when looking for affordable health care:
Research online. Health care providers, including hospitals, in 33 states are required to post a list of their fees on the Internet. These are available on government websites. Keep in mind, however, that many fees are separated–as opposed to bundled–on this list. This is especially important in the case that you are planning to have a complicated procedure that involves the payment of multiple professionals, such as surgery. Meanwhile, some medical service providers in other states have decided to do so of their own volition. These fees can vary significantly, so shopping around is especially important.
Ask your insurance company. They want to provide you with affordable health insurance that also saves them money. If you’re insured, call the members’ help line or log onto the patient website for information about a multitude of cost and quality measures for common diagnostic exams, visits, and medical procedures.
Remember all facilities aren’t created equal. Specialized medical centers are generally less expensive than hospitals. This is because hospitals must charge higher fees for procedures in order to cover their overhead. On the other hand, a specialty center or clinic–such as a specialized imaging center–is smaller and focused on a narrower range of medical procedures. As a result, they are able to charge less for each procedure.
Look for discounts. Some health care providers can have over 10 different pricing scales. The price you have to pay for a medical procedure often depends on which health insurance company, if any, is picking up the tab. If your insurer negotiated a better rate with a particular provider than it did, it’s a good idea to find out. Prices are usually higher for the uninsured, too.
Use comparison-shopping websites. For other major purchases like cars, there have long been methods of determining the fair market value of the product. Recently, several websites have done the same for your most important health care purchases, including HealthCareBlueBook, PriceDoc, and OutOfPocket. These sites will help you figure out what different providers charge in your area.
Negotiate! Especially if you are currently without affordable health insurance, many doctors and medical billing offices are willing to work with you. You can use the price quotes you found in the last step as a starting point. Also, there are often payment plans available to help you budget medical expenses more effectively.
Beware of fees. One of the most common fees driving up insurance costs is the “facility fee” charged by many hospitals. They claim that it is necessary to charge several hundred dollars to pay for expansion and upkeep. Most insurance companies don’t cover it, and those that do are sure to be passing the cost onto you through higher premiums. Going to hospitals that have lower or non-existent facility fees means that you are more likely to have affordable health insurance. Similar fees also apply to doctor’s office affiliated with hospitals, so make sure to ask beforehand.