5 Ways to Save on Medical Costs

Cheryl Maguire

Doctor visits, medications, and other medical costs can add up quickly, especially if you or a family member has an illness or struggles with health problems. While it may seem impossible to cut medical costs, there are, in fact, ways to save and stretch your dollars. Here are some money-saving tips related to medical costs: 

1. Negotiate with doctors/hospitals. 

Most people don’t realize you can negotiate medical costs with your doctor or hospital. In fact, according to a poll, 75 percent of patients who negotiated with a doctor, dentist, or hospital were able to lower their bill. In my personal experience, one time I was sick and without insurance, and I explained my situation to the doctor. He didn’t charge me for the visit, and he even gave me enough free medication that I didn’t have to fill a prescription. 

 2. Ask for free samples.

Anytime a doctor prescribes a new medication, ask for a free sample before you fill the medication. Not only does this save you money, but it also gives you the chance to try the medicine before buying it. You’ll be able to see if it works or if you have an allergy to it before spending money on it. (For me, I always asked for free samples of allergy meds when I went to get my allergy shots.) 

 3. Compare medication cost with and without

Surprisingly, some medications are less expensive without insurance. Some insurance companies or mail-order companies require you to pay a minimum co-pay amount, which can cost more than the medication without the insurance. Always check both prices before purchasing a medication.

 4. Buy generic. 

In some cases, generic medications can cost one-third the price of the brand-name versions. By law, a generic drug must contain the same ingredients as the brand-name drug. So, when your doctor is prescribing a medication, request the generic equivalent.

When purchasing an over-the-counter medication, read the labels to make sure the generic option has the same dose and name under “active ingredients.” The only exception to this savings tip is if you have a coupon for a name-brand medication and it is on sale. (In that case, the price may be less than the generic.) You can visit brand-name websites for available coupons.

5. Exercise, eat healthy, and get sleep.  

The best way to avoid illness and medications is to be healthy. Regular exercise provides many health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, strengthening your immune system, decreasing your stress levels, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and increasing your flexibility and energy. Eating healthful foods and getting enough sleep are also ways to improve your health and help you avoid getting sick. Taking a walk or going to bed early doesn’t cost you a penny, but it could help you avoid the expense (and struggle) of poor health. 

Cheryl Maguire has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Washington Post, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, and many other publications.

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