It’s inevitable that as you get older, the more costly it becomes to maintain your body in good health Here’s one bitter pill that’s really hard to swallow: doctor’s fees and medical bills tend to increase as we get older

According to a U.S. Data on Ambulatory Care Use and Physician Visits, 82.6% of adults have consulted with a health care professional in 2011 alone, while for children, it’s a staggering 92.6%! There are around 1.2 billion Americans who visited a hospital outpatient, a physician’s office, and an emergency department during the same year. Here’s something for you to think about: according to the same study, the most commonly diagnosed condition is hypertension.

If you have this ailment and you’re uninsured, this will be general breakdown of your expenses:

  • Cardiologist Fee (includes doctor’s visit, physician exam, and possibly, electrocardiogram) > $200-$500
  • Ultrasound of the Heart (Echocardiogram) > $300
  • Stress Test > $500 – $1,000

That’s just for one visit. Now, what if your hypertension has taken a turn for the worse and you need to go to the Emergency Room? Expect to add around $1,233 (or more) for a day’s treatment. That is around 40% higher than an average American renting his or her home, which is around $871 per month.

Living healthy doesn’t mean going broke in the process. We all need to find a way to lower our medical expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to do it. Here’s how:

PRACTICE HEALTHY LIVING

Here’s something that you can do right now: Take care of yourself. This means you exercise, lower your stress, eat the right kinds of foods, make friends, meditate, etc. Remember that prevention is always better than trying to find a cure. Think of it as an investment in yourself: you’ll reap the benefits in the end.

UNDERSTAND YOUR HEALTH CARE RIGHTS

You can actually take advantage of FREE preventive screening tests if you have a health care plan. These tests include: mammogram, blood pressure, colonoscopy and cholesterol tests. It also includes coverage for vaccines and preventive services for women. Keep in mind that you can avail of this privilege even if you haven’t met your annual deductible.

BUY GENERIC MEDICINES

Generic Drugs can save you big money, and if you mostly buy over-the-counter drugs like multivitamins, gastrointestinal, fever, or allergy medications, then you’ve hit it big time. Ask your doctor about the generics name of his prescriptions so you can refer this to your pharmacist.

COMPARE COSTS FOR LAB TESTS

So, your doctor told you to get a lab test at a specific place? That’s helpful — but not mandatory. Actually, there are thousands of labs that are highly competent, though relatively small and unknown. However, what’s good about them is that they charge a lot less than most labs found in well-known hospitals or health centers.

Remember what we’ve talked about hospital bills earlier? They’re the same when it comes to lab prices — they differ across the country and within similar zip codes as well. Do your research first, and have fun saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fees.

ASK AROUND

Not all hospital fees are the same — even if they are within the same metropolitan area.

Here’s a case in point: Patient A goes to Bayonne Hospital in New Jersey and gets treated for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). What’s his bill? It’s $99,690. Less than 30 miles away, this procedure is offered in the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center (Bronx, New York) for a mere $7,044. That’s a big difference.

It’s enough to make you cringe, isn’t it?

NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR DOCTOR FOR A DISCOUNT

This might not sit well for some people, especially if they think of themselves as shy. But hey, a discount is a discount, right? So be brave. Ask your doctor politely if he is open to lowering his fees. You can suggest the following:

•   Prompt Pay Discounts

Some medical professional offer 10 to 30 percent discounts to patients who pay their entire bill up front. Why? Paying up front reduces paperwork and financial hassles for the doctor. It also guarantees payment.

•   Extended Payment Plan

There are credit cards available such as Care Credit that can be used for medical and dental expenses. They typically offer 6 or 12 month terms so that you can spread the payment out interest free. Not all doctors and dentists accept this type of credit card but many do.

•   Payment-Assistance Programs

Believe it or not, there are actually public, private and non-profit organizations that might help shoulder some of your doctor’s bills — sometimes regardless of your income. Do some research, or ask your health care practitioners, nurses and doctors. You never know what you might find.

•   Get the help of a Health Care Advocate

Do you live in Connecticut, Rhode Island and California? Then lucky you. These states have health care advocates that might help you lower your expenses. There are also some non-profit groups that will help you negotiate with your doctor for free or reduced fee services.

Growing old should not mean going broke. There are many ways you can lower your health care insurance costs and health care bills by negotiating with your doctor, comparing costs, using generic medicines, and practicing healthy living. Remember that you have the power to live healthfully and happy at any age.

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By le Mec…The Insurance Guy
All Your Insurance, inc
4531 N 16th St ste 122
Phoenix, AZ 85016
602-438-9733

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