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5 Simple Ways You Can Save Money on Health Care

Last updated: September 27, 2021

Health care costs are at an all-time high. Even with health insurance, a patient’s portion of the bill can feel overwhelming. And let’s face it — the more our bank account takes a hit, the less likely we are to seek care. So how can we stay on top of our health without overpaying? Believe it or not, a few simple adjustments could save you hundreds of dollars.

1. Schedule Annual Wellness Appointments

Experts agree that routine, recommended screenings and wellness visits are among the best ways to save money on health care costs.

“The preventive care provided during wellness visits is free, though you may incur some cost for managing chronic or acute illness,” says Dr. Lesley Kieffer, a Family Medicine Physician at ThedaCare. “That said, annual wellness visits are significantly less expensive than a trip to the emergency room. Ask yourself, would you rather pay for a medication change or refill to help you manage symptoms, or cover the cost of an unexpected, extended hospital stay? Prevention is always the right answer.”

Ask yourself, would you rather pay for a medication change or refill to help you manage symptoms, or cover the cost of an unexpected, extended hospital stay?

Lesley Kieffer, Family Medicine Physician, ThedaCare

Wellness visits are a low-cost way to help you identify any signs of an illness in its preliminary stages — when it’s easier and less expensive to treat. It’s also an easy way to stay on top of vaccinations that can protect you from developing severe illness. In addition to addressing any issues you’re experiencing with your physical health, you should use this time with your doctor to discuss any mental health concerns for which you may need medication or counseling.

“This is your opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with your primary care provider,” Dr. Kieffer says. “They can help you understand when certain screenings are recommended based on your specific profile and health history, so you’ll always get the care you need. If a test is deemed appropriate for your individual circumstances, it will likely be covered by your insurance.”

2. Rethink Your Approach to Prescription Medications

Is your prescription medication available in a generic version? It might be worth looking into.

According to the FDA, opting for a generic version of your medication could cost you substantially less — anywhere from 30% to 80% less than the brand name version.

But that’s not all.

Getting your prescriptions through the mail could result in a small savings, not to mention spare you a trip to the pharmacy. Discount cards and coupons also offer simple way to help you cut costs on prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, medical supplies, and even pet prescriptions purchased through a pharmacy.

When it comes to saving money on prescriptions, Dr. Kieffer mentioned one other important consideration.

“Take your medications as directed,” she says. “Taking them more often than recommended, or not often enough, could worsen your condition or cause additional health issues, which will inevitably cost you more money down the road.”

3. Seek the Appropriate Level of Care

Sometimes we’re faced with an illness or injury that leaves us questioning where to seek care. Can it wait for an appointment with my primary doctor? Do I need urgent care? Should I go to the emergency room? The choice we make ultimately will determine how much we pay.

“First and foremost, always seek emergency care for a life-threatening condition or circumstances that could result in permanent injury,” Dr. Kieffer says. “This can include anything from severe chest pain to head injuries to allergic reactions to major bleeding.”

For less severe conditions that still warrant immediate attention, such as high fever, minor wounds and cuts or simple fractures, urgent care is the best choice. Mild conditions and routine care are best handled through a virtual or regularly scheduled appointment.

If you need help determining the appropriate level of care for your condition or symptoms, visit our Get Care Now page or call (920) 830-6877.

4. Choose In-Network Providers

Your insurance plan includes a network of care providers from whom you can choose to receive care. By doing so, you’ll pay a significantly lower rate — on average, 50% less.

“Choosing medical professionals, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in your network is one of the simplest ways to save on health care,” Dr. Kieffer says. “If you’re unsure about which providers or locations are in-network, your health insurance company can provide you with that information.”

There may be instances when it isn’t possible to see someone in-network, for example, if you’re on vacation out-of-state. In such cases, contact your insurance company for recommendations.

While you’re at it, review your insurance plan so you know which costs you’re responsible for. Having a thorough understanding of your copay, deductible,and covered medications can help you avoid unexpected expenses.

5. Take Care of Your Health

It might sound obvious, but cutting health care expenses starts with reducing unnecessary care. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of chronic disease, promote bone and joint health, protect your mental health, and increase immunity, all of which will minimize the need to seek care outside of regular wellness visits.

“Eat a balanced diet, fit plenty of movement into your day, get adequate sleep, and ditch unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking in excess,” Dr. Kieffer says. “Of all the ways you can lower the cost of care, the best approach is preventing illness and injury in the first place. The money you’ll save is a win for sure, but the real advantage is positioning yourself for a longer, healthier life.”

Learn more about the care options available to you, including what to expect during your wellness visit, how to choose the right level of care for your condition, and where to find providers in your network.

Tags: medication Pharmacy preventive care wellness visits

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