How to be Frugal on your Medical Bill

Say what? Frugal and medical bills don’t exactly belong in the same sentence these days due to the rising cost of drugs, lab tests, procedures and everything else medical related. So how can you be frugal enough to see (and feel) some savings on your medical bill? Let’s review a couple of options.

Go Generic

Just like consumer goods, there’s a price to pay if you go for branded items. The next time your doctor gives you a prescription, ask about the generic alternative. You can purchase generic medicine and supplements at a price that’s nearly 80 – 85% lower than branded drugs, so make sure you ask about this option before buying anything.

The active ingredients at the quantities required for your treatment will be the same, as well as its strength and purity. It’s a myth that generic drugs are less effective than their branded counterparts because the FDA requires generic drugs to have the same quality and performance of brand name drugs.

Why are they cheap? Generics don’t need to undergo costly clinical trials like the big pharma companies who invented the drug, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Plus, generic drug manufacturers have small marketing budgets and spend very little money on advertising.

If it’s Free, Take it!

More often than not, your local pharmacy, hospital, school or health fair offers free tests such as eye exams, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol. If it’s offered, go ahead and take it. You can save a substantial amount of money, especially on eye exams. Plus, even regular eye exams can catch more serious ailments such as diabetes and hypertension.

Another freebie tactic is to ask your doctor for free samples. Doctors are given a lot of these by the pharma companies that want them to prescribe their drugs. From asthma inhalers to vitamins, don’t hesitate to ask your GP about it. Of course, it pays to be really close with your doctor first. Bring some home baked cookies, perhaps?

Discounts Rule

Just like negotiating for a discount on a car, you can ask your doctor for a discount on your medical bill, too. 61% of patients who ask for a discount get a little something, so it always pays to pop the question, especially if your finances are tight. If you’re honest with your doctor about your financial situation, they’ll usually cut you some slack.

Another way to get a discount is to ask for a longer prescription (3 months), especially if you’ll be on the drug for the foreseeable future. You can save up to 33% versus paying for the same drug monthly. Discount cards also help, and if your healthcare provider has one and gives it to you, use it for even more discounts.

Shop Around

Before agreeing to a procedure or a lab test, check the prices of other competing clinics in your area to see who’s more affordable. Look for clinics like that post their fees online so you can have an idea how much the procedure will cost you. This goes out for pharmacies as well. Look for the pharmacy with the lowest prices.

Sometimes going to big box retailers is even cheaper than going to your local pharmacy. Significant discounts on 30-day and 90-day prescriptions are usually available at warehouse club stores, even for non-members.

Always Check your Bill

About 80% of bills contain errors, so check every detail and every charge on your bill before leaving the clinic or hospital. If you see any discrepancies, don’t hesitate to call the attention of the billing department. Never pay for anything you didn’t get.

Saving on medical bills is totally doable if you really want to be frugal. Every dollar saved counts these days, and if you could save even a small amount on medicine and consultations, you can save up for future medical bills. Good luck saving, and stay healthy!

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