Ways To Save Money During A Medical Emergency
During the current Coronavirus outbreak, millions of Americans are extremely distressed about their finances, particularly where healthcare is concerned. Have a look at these ways to help you save during medical emergencies.
Save on Medications
There are a few ways you can cut the cost of prescription medication. Some doctors have free samples that pharmaceutical companies have given them. They can be given out to patients, so it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any samples of the medication you have been prescribed. Even if it’s just a few doses, it will help cut the cost.
Ask the pharmacist if there is an over the counter alternative from the prescribed medicine you require. You could purchase over the counter products for less and they would treat your symptoms in the same way as the prescription drug.
If possible, ask if you can get a 90-day supply of your medication. Some insurance companies offer discounts on medications if buying ‘in bulk’ as opposed to the rolling ‘30-day’ prescriptions.
Generic drugs are a copy of the big brand name medication, created in the same way with exactly the same active ingredient. Once a brand name drug loses its patent protection you can get generic alternatives that cost far less because all of the clinical trials have already been previously established.
Just be aware that there was a Supreme Court ruling that the manufacturers of generic brands cannot be sued if the medication causes any adverse reactions. If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor first and discuss any risks.
Open a Health Savings Account (HSA)
The money paid into a Health Saving Account is tax-free and the balance rolls over year to year. To be eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA) you must have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) that it can be paired to. A High Deductible Health Plan offers you lower monthly payments but a higher deductible than a traditional healthcare plan, making it more affordable.
The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket for your medical expenses before your insurance will pay for any claims. If you don’t anticipate any medical expenses in the coming year, choosing a High Deductible Health Plan could save you several hundred dollars.
It is important that you fully read and understand the conditions of a policy before you make any decisions about health insurance.
If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) it would be a good idea to try and save at least the deductible amount if you can, to cover any out-of-pocket expenses that may occur in a worst-case scenario.
For 2020, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) defines a high deductible health plan as any plan with a minimum deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. Therefore you will be expected to pay at least this amount and up to a maximum of $6,900 for an individual or $13,800 for a family.
It often pays to shop around because some hospitals and doctors can charge different fees for a visit. If you need to seek medical attention you could always ask your regular doctor’s office if they do walk-in or same-day visits. If not, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you could try going to a retail walk-in clinic or pharmacy, or an Urgent Care Center before going to the Emergency Room.
Retail Walk-in Clinic or Pharmacy
These are normally located inside larger grocery stores such as Walmart, Walgreens, and Target. These pharmacies are good to use for advice about common illnesses and are normally staffed by a nurse practitioner (N.P.) or a physician assistant (P.A.).
Cost : Low around $60-$100
Urgent Care Center
Urgent care centers are owned by the hospital, a group of doctors or even independent investors. This is where you should go if you need urgent, but not life-threatening medical attention, where you will be seen by a physician, physician assistant (P.A) or nurse practitioner (N.P)
Cost: Moderate around $200
The ER is normally in a hospital setting and deals with more serious life-threatening illnesses. The people who work there are emergency medicine physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and specialists.
Cost: High- your visit could run into thousands of dollars depending on the treatment required so it may be worth making a few calls to find out where to go to save you money.
Look out for Billing Mistakes
Medical bills can be very confusing so make sure you have received all of the services you have been charged for. Ask for an itemized bill so you can see a detailed breakdown of all the costs and check thoroughly to ensure there are no errors in your medical bill.
Review your bill for any services or prescriptions you may not have received but are on the bill, or any procedures you may have been overcharged or incorrectly charged for.
Also, ensure that the bill has been submitted to your insurance company first. Claims have been known to be billed incorrectly. If any issues arise between the provider and the insurance company the next move is to bill you, the patient, directly. You are responsible for paying any bills you receive.
Pay in advance and ask for reduced rates
Often doctors and health care centers are open to negotiation so it may be worth asking them if they could reduce the cost of your medical bill.
Ask if you can get a discount if you pay in cash or for paying in advance for your treatment. You could also inquire if there are any discounts if you set up a payment plan. Speak to them on the occasions that you are struggling with your finances, they might take this into consideration and reduce the cost of your treatment.
If you do not have health insurance it’s wise, for peace of mind, to start saving an emergency fund to help pay even a little towards your medical care. By setting aside money from your monthly budget for the cost of medical bills, you may find you don’t have to resort to using high-interest credit cards.