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Top Ten Ways to Save on Health Care Costs

written by: Mike White•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/16/2010

Knowing how to save money on health care costs can remove the fear you might naturally have if you lack health insurance. This article will teach you how to cut your prescription costs, negotiate with your provider for lower health care costs, and save money in a health care fund.

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    Not Having Insurance Doesn't Have To Be Scary

    If you don't have health insurance or if you only have a very minimal plan, it's easy for expenses to quickly build up. With these tips, you can learn how to save money on health care costs and save yourself from some of the associated stress that goes along with worrying about unpaid bills.

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    1. Get Free Samples From Your Doctor

    If you don't have insurance, one of your biggest medical expenses will probably be the high cost of prescription drugs. You can save a lot of money by getting as many things for free as you can. Drug manufacturers often provide doctors with huge stockpiles of samples. Ask your doctor if he has any samples of the medication he wants you to take. This is also true for contact lens cleaners from optometrists and skin cleansers at dermatologists' offices.

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    2. Start a Health Care Savings Fund and Get a Tax Break at the Same Time

    For some people, heath care savings accounts may be the best way to save on health care costs, but they are not for everybody. They work just like other personal savings accounts. The difference is the money put in them may only be used for health care expenses. An advantage of a health care fund is you will not be taxed on the money you put into one.

    You can even invest the money in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. They can be very good if you are healthy now and want to save for future medical expenses. They are not as good for those who are not healthy now and will need expensive medical treatment in the next year. In addition, only people who have a high deductible health insurance plan qualify for the accounts.

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    3. Join the Club

    You can reduce your high health care costs and cut the cost of your prescriptions greatly by joining the drug discount program at your local pharmacy, if one exists. Many pharmacies have such programs.

    As only one example, Walgreens offers a club that allows customers to save on prescription drugs if they are not enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, and you can read about it on the company site. For example, the pharmacy offers discounts on more than 5,000 generic and name brand medicines. On some products, Walgreens offers no discounts but offers a ten percent reward. If you pay a $20 annual enrollment fee for an individual or a $35 fee for a family, you can purchase a 90 day supply of any of more than 400 generic medicines for less than $1 per week.

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    4. Buy Your Prescriptions Online From a Reputable Company

    Save money by filling your prescriptions online, but be sure you are buying from a reputable company. The amount of the savings might surprise you. Even though 95 percent of online pharmacies are in compliance with pharmacy laws and practices, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy says many companies lure customers by spam to websites that are nothing but fraud. By going to the website of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, nabp.net, you can find reputable online pharmacies. Shop and compare the prices offered when compared to your local pharmacy.

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    5. Negotiate With Your Healthcare Provider

    Believe it or not, you can save up to 30% on your health costs by negotiating with your healthcare provider. Medical providers often offer discounted rates to insurance companies, and these discounts have been negotiated ahead of time. If you don't have insurance, you don't receive the benefit of these special rates. You may be able to receive reduced rates, however, if you talk with your doctor or hospital's billing department. You may get a discount or be able to set up a payment schedule.

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    6. Get Cash Back For Your Health Care Products

    Did you know you can get cash back when you use some health care products? The rebates are for products not covered by insurance or Medicare. They are provided by Hamacher Resource Group, Milwaukee, for pain killers, skin-care products, vitamins, and other items. You can sign up at caregiversmarketplace.com. According to the agency, the average rebate is $15.

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    7. Use Generics

    You might save a lot of money on your health costs if you buy only generic prescriptions. If you are not able to buy a generic for a particular medicine, you might still save if you have a prescription card.

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    8. Public Health Programs

    Have you checked to see if you are eligible for public health insurance programs? Almost half of the people without insurance are eligible for such programs but are not enrolled.

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    9. Look at Your Bills Closely

    Check your medical bills more closely. Medical Billing Advocates of America reports that 90% of medical bills contain errors. Another study reported that more than 75% of appeals of medical costs are won. Ask for an itemized bill. Especially look for duplicate charges for the same item.

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    10. Free Is Always Better

    Take advantage of free health screenings for breast cancer, other types of cancer, cholesterol screening, blood pressure tests, diabetes screening, and any others in your area. Check your local paper.