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Reducing Medical Costs

medical costs

Me back in the day when insurance was affordable…

I am insured though the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Before ACA, I was uninsurable because of hepatitis C. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allowed me to keep my insurance plan when I left Stanford Medical Center. In two years, the cost of that insurance was equivalent to the price of a new car.

Now I have a model 2014 car and insurance through ACA. However, the plan has a high deductible. Given that I don’t go to the doctor often, I am responsible for the entire post-insurance portion of my medical costs until I reach the upper limit of my deductible.

I am a Ralph Nader baby boomer, so I keep my medical costs down by negotiating and shopping around. For instance, if I get my labs done through my medical provider’s system, it costs twice as much as it does at Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp. When my doctor orders a lab test, I ask if it is necessary. Recently she ordered a liver panel for me. I am in a post-hepatitis C treatment clinical trial that does that twice a year, so I suggested we skip the one I would pay for and I’d provide her with a copy from the study.

I get my bone density scan at a freestanding imaging center rather than the local hospital. I also try to save money on prescriptions. My doctor ordered a nose spray for allergies which is now over-the-counter and was on sale. I bought the cheaper one.

The internet is packed with tools to help you find better prices. Fair Health Consumer, Healthcare Bluebook, and New Choice Health can help you find average health care costs for your area, and provide tips on how to  reduce these costs. NeedyMeds and Partnership for Prescription Assistance are two organizations dedicated to helping people find low or no cost prescription medicines.

There are many ways to save money and stay healthy. Travel medicine for certain procedures can be safe and affordable if you do your homework. The key word is homework. Do your research, talk to others, and you may find that like negotiating for a good deal on a car, you can find good health care deals.

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