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Learn how to squeeze your medical costs down to size

The cost of medical care is often overwhelming. For many people, the current economy has forced them to drop their health insurance, and therefore medical care is out of reach or limited, at best. But there are some ways you can save some money on your health care costs.

If you do have insurance, make sure you understand what you've got. Many health care plans cover extras like therapy, alternative care, gym visits or phone consults with a nurse practitioner. It also pays to know which doctors and hospitals accept your insurance as well.

For children, your best best may be the State Children's Health Insurance Program. You can find out if you qualify by going online at

Haggling over cost can save you some serious cash also. You haggle over a car or the cost of a home, right? Why not see if there is some wiggle room on the price tag of your health care? Compare the cost of a test or procedure before you go in, and ask for the billing code, so you're getting an accurate cost. You can compare what doctors are billing at You should also offer to pay in cash, in total. This can save you from 20 to 50 percent.

Drugs are another huge expense. If you can, go generic. You can check to see if what you are currently taking is available in generic form at You can also ask your doctor for higher dosage pills, then split them in half, which will give you twice the medication for the price. Check to see if you can get your drugs by mail order – this can save you up to 40 percent on costs.

Keep abreast of community events, and if there's a health fair being held locally, take advantage of the free tests that are offered. You can get blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings, as well as eye exams and bone density tests.

Last of all, when you do receive treatment, ask for an itemized bill and go over it carefully. Errors on medical care bills are more common than you think, so you should double check your statement.

Published Mar 01 2012, 11:48 AM by moneycoach
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