Save Thousands in Medical Costs, Without Sacrificing Quality

Save Thousands in Medical Costs, Without Sacrificing Quality

In today's Daily, "How Much Should You Be Budgeting For Health Care This Year," we told you that a healthy 25-year-old should budget at least $582 per year for doctor visits. Even if you have health insurance—and we want you to!—you'll still have to use your own money for some of your health expenses. Here are 5 ways to manage your out-of-pocket health care costs:

Know What Things Cost

CostHelper.com lists information on typical prices for a wide range of exams and procedures, with the addition of real-world info from individual users. Use this knowledge when selecting a doctor or discussing the fee for a routine procedure—which you should always do ahead of time.

Check Payments Upfront

There’s a new trend for doctors to demand everything at the time of service, including deductible, co-insurance, AND co-pay. Before you fork over the cash, make sure they’re not charging you more than your insurance allows—call your insurance company from the doctor’s office if necessary.

Ditch Name-Brand Drugs

In many cases, you can lower the cost of prescription drugs by opting for a generic instead. Read more about why we prefer generic drugs.

Don't Pay a Big Bill Until You've Negotiated

For bills of more than $250, you may be able to cut costs by as much as 30% if you use a medical negotiation service. Read more about medical negotiation services here.

Take Advantage of an FSA

If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), use it. FSA contributions are tax-deductible, which increases your take-home pay. According to calculations by benefits administrators Bentley, Yates & Co., an employee earning $36,000 per year could take home an extra $142 per month if she put $400 into an FSA every month, and then spent it on insurance premiums and other health expenses. That’s $1,704 per year! Once you pick a contribution amount, your employer will do it for you each paycheck.

Here's to a happy and healthy (financially and physically) 2010!

Minda is vice president of The American Society of Journalists and Authors and co-author of The Geek Gap.

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