The average American spent $9,569 on healthcare in 2012, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For a struggling lower-middle-class family, health care costs can become crippling. But if you use these parenting hacks to save money on medical care, you’ll be able to keep those costs in line better. From picking the best policy to utilizing cash discounts, there are lots of ways to save money on health care.
1. Choose the best policy for your family
Try to find a plan that will include the medications and doctors your family uses. However, don’t select one that has a lot of coverage for things you’ll likely never need. A golden rule to follow is that if you pick a plan with a high deductible, you haven’t even come close to reaching – consider getting a plan with an even lower on this year, and thus pay fewer premiums.
2. Call the nurse’s line
Many insurance policies offer a nurse’s line that you can call for free to ask medical questions. This may save you a co-pay on a trip to the doctor if you can use over-the-counter medicine. There’s no need to rush to the doctor for every cough and sniffle. If your insurance policy doesn’t offer a nurse’s line, your doctor’s office might.
3. Avoid unnecessary expenses
If you do need to see a doctor, avoid the ER except for real emergencies, as it will be more expensive than an office visit. When your doctor suggests costly tests, explain your financial situation and confirm with him or her that they are essential. Sometimes doctors are just trying to cover all their bases.
4. Take advantage of cash discounts
Some doctors offer patients cash discounts – that is, if you pay with cash, they’ll charge you a lower price because they don’t have to go through the hassle they usually go through with insurance. Ask your doctor if they have a “cash price” for services. You can often get great cash discounts at walk-in community health clinics as well.
5. Shop around
Not all doctors charge the same fees for services, and not all pharmacies charge the same for medicines. Be sure to call and ask for prices up front, as well as what your out-of-pocket would be if you are using insurance, before choosing a doctor or pharmacy.
6. Use coupons
People are often thinking of coupons when it comes to grocery stores, but it doesn’t usually enter their minds when it comes to medicine. However, many drug manufacturers offer coupons on their websites. For example, you can get a manufacturer’s coupon that drastically reduces your co-pay on an EpiPen or even brings it down to $0. If you’ve found yourself with an expensive medication, check online for coupons or use cool new services to see where you can get the best deals.