2nd Quarter 2016

Save Money on Health-Care Costs

Thanks to rising deductibles and co-payments, chances are you're paying more for health care even if you have insurance. That's all the more reason to be a smart health care shopper. Here are some ways to save money on health care without sacrificing quality:

Use a preferred pharmacy. Your insurer may charge much less for medications you buy from certain pharmacy chains. For example, you may have a $10 co-pay at preferred pharmacies, but $33 at a nonpreferred shop. Or you may have to pay 35 percent of the cost of expensive specialty medications at a preferred pharmacy, but 50 percent at a pharmacy that's not favored by your insurer.

Ask your doctor about less-expensive medications. Generic drugs can cost up to 85 percent less than brand-name versions, and many new generics come on the market every year. If no generic drug is available, ask your doctor if there are any therapeutic alternatives — similar drugs that can treat your condition but cost a lot less or have better coverage under your insurance policy.

Find out about standalone imaging centers for x-rays and tests. The average outpatient hospital cost for MRIs and CAT scans tends to be double the cost of the same tests at a standalone radiology center, and both may be covered by your insurance company. Most insurers have tools to help you compare the cost of x-rays and tests at different facilities in your area.

Stay in your insurer's network. Your deductibles and co-payments will usually be lower (and some insurers don't cover out-of-network care at all), and you'll pay the insurer's lower negotiated rate. Use the health care shopping tools from your employer or insurer to find out-of-pocket costs for in-network providers in your area.

Return to top