The way we purchase health care in Colorado is unlike most other purchases we make. Many people will search through a newspaper for a coupon that saves them 50 cents at the supermarket or scour the web to see who has the lowest price on the latest electronics. However, when it comes to our health care—a far more complex and expensive service—we rarely ask questions or consider all the options that could save us time and money.
We can’t give you a coupon or steer you to a sale on health care, but here are some things you can do to reduce the amount you’re spending on health care.
- Learn to shop for value when it comes to health care. With little effort you can save thousands of dollars on your medical bills.
- Let’s make a deal. Ask your doctor, hospital or dentist if they will accept less. Studies show that the majority of individuals who bargain succeed.
- Know how much it costs. You will be better armed to negotiate discounts when you know the real costs of care. You can find rates on the websites of large insurers like UHC, Anthem and Kaiser. Your broker can also give you rate sheets for comparison.
- Pay in cash. You can often save up to 10 percent on your bill by paying in cash up front, and sometimes much more than that. Doctors lose thousands of dollars every year on credit card processing fees, unpaid bills and collection fees.
- Examine your bill closely. You may find mistakes. Keep track of your visits, tests and medications, and compare them against your bills. Request a corrected bill if you find an error and notify your insurance company.
- Follow instructions. Follow your health care provider’s instructions for medications. Medications work most effectively when they are used according to doctor’s instructions. Ignoring instructions could result in additional prescription costs, extra trips to the doctor or even hospitalization.
- Visit a retail health clinic for minor injuries and illnesses. Retail health clinics are growing in number. They are popping up in high-traffic retail outlets in metropolitan areas around the country. While these clinics lack the personal nature of seeing a family physician who knows your complete medical history, their appeal is the convenience and low prices.
- Stay in-network. Your medical costs can increase greatly when you visit a provider not in your plan’s network. Make sure your primary care doctor and any specialists you may need to see are in your network whenever possible.
- It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you must see a specialist who isn’t within your network, call your insurance company’s pre-certification department and explain why you must use an out-of-network specialist. You can often get your insurance company to agree to pay in-network rates in order to avoid the expensive appeal process. If that doesn’t work, ask your specialist to accept the in-network rate.
- Understand what treatment your plan covers. Are you paying for chiropractic care, massage therapy or acupuncture? Check your insurance company’s website or call their customer service line to make sure you aren’t needlessly paying for health care that is covered by your insurance.
- Stay insured. Generally it is cheaper to stay on your employer’s plan rather than going on your own if you are considering leaving your job in the next year, make the change to the lowest-cost plan during your open enrollment period. After you quit, COBRA allows you to stay on your employer’s health plan for up to 18 months. If you elect COBRA coverage, you pay 100 percent of the premiums, including the share the employer used to pay, plus a small administrative fee.
- Fight back. If your claim has been denied, start with a phone call to customer service. If that doesn’t work, follow your plan’s appeal process. Remember to document everything and keep copies.
- Choose your health plan wisely. Choosing the plan with the lowest premiums or sticking with the same plan year to year may not be the smartest option. Anticipate your family’s medical expenses and look closely at each plan option to find the most appropriate and cost-effective one for you.
If you need help choosing the right Colorado health plan, whether it’s for your family or for your business, let Roper Insurance help you. We specialize in helping you find the right plan at the right price. Contact Us today for more information.