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Six Ways to Slash Your Health Costs
Date:12/17/2009

y prescription. These include allergy remedies, pain relievers and heartburn medications.

Pay less for a consultation: Retail clinics (such as MinuteClinic or RediClinic) or telemedicine services that offer phone and online consultations (such as TelaDoc) can cost significantly less than traditional office visits. A visit to a walk-in clinic can result in a bill that is less than half of what you'd see from a doctor's office visit and a fraction of emergency room treatment. TelaDoc is about $35 per consultation. Small, free standing clinics like CareNow also offer costs and wait times that are usually well below those in an emergency room. And, don't pass up the opportunity to visit health fairs -- where most services, such as disease screenings, blood tests and risk assessments are often free.

Shop for diagnostic procedures and lab work: Ask about cash rates and discounts. Call different labs in your area and check prices for both cash and your insurance plan's negotiated rate. Paying upfront and/or filing insurance forms yourself may save significant costs. If you are getting any kind of procedure, make sure -- in advance -- that all providers are in-network, including the anesthesiologist. If uninsured, negotiate in advance of receiving care; check the Internet for discount card programs that lower costs at hospitals, pharmacies, labs and retail clinics.

Also, compare prices at different labs and diagnostic centers. Screenings and tests can be priced up to 80 percent less than the cost for the same services in hospitals or clinics.

Medical Tourism: This term originally meant traveling to another country for treatment, but that's changed. If you are in need of costly surgery, there are increasing numbers of reputable clinics, hospitals and surgery centers in the U.S. willing to compete for business by offering services as a steep cash discount. Search the Internet for competitive facili
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SOURCE National Center for Policy Analysis
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