The Cutting Edge: Lowering Your Healthcare Costs

Finding ways to get affordable coverage, medicines

highendcareRising healthcare costs have not made it easy to attain adequate coverage. Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $12,680 annually for family coverage this year, with employees on average paying $3,354 out of their paychecks to cover their share of the cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Premiums rose a modest 5% this year, but they have more than doubled since 1999 when total family premiums stood at $5,791 (of which workers paid $1,543).

During the same nine-year period, workers’ wages increased 34% and general inflation rose 29%, meaning less service for your dollar. This year, many workers are also facing higher deductibles in their plans, including a growing number with general plan deductibles of at least $1,000, up from 12% last year.

“With rising deductibles, more and more people face a substantial out-of-pocket amount for their healthcare before their insurance fully kicks in,” says Drew Altman, Kaiser president and CEO. “Health insurance is steadily becoming less comprehensive, and it’s no wonder that in today’s tough economic climate many families count healthcare costs as one of their top pocketbook issues,” he adds.

Whether you’re searching for coverage or have a plan, here are a few tips to make sure you get the most care for your buck:

Shop around. With a number of comparison-price shopping Websites, looking for proper coverage can be as easy as finding the best mp3 player. “There are several Websites one can go to compare plans,” says Georges Benjamin, executive director at the American Public Health Association. He recommends visiting ehealthinsurance.com for quotes. The site compiles plans based on the information you provide. Coveragepoint.com offers users a broker to help choose the best plan.

Go cheaper or generic. If you find yourself forking out loads of cash for prescriptions, ask your doctor for a cheaper drug, especially if you’re given a free sample. “If the doctor gives you a free sample, it typically is the most expensive drug to treat that ailment,” says Devon Herrick, a health economist at the National Center for Policy Analysis. That drug can end up costing $100 a month. Herrick also recommends using Destinationrx.com’s drug comparison tool which helps users find cheaper alternatives.

Try a clinic. If you are looking for a flu shot or a minor service, skip your general care physician for a retail-based clinic at a local Walmart or CVS. These clinics are usually staffed by nurse practitioners. “It’s half the price if you’re paying the bill yourself,” Herrick says.

Compare clinic and lab prices. When it comes to going to a clinic or getting lab work done, Herrick says it may be cheaper to forgo the insurance. If your doctor asks that you get lab work done and recommends a few centers, ask for an additional three centers so you can shop around. “Tell them the insurance you have and ask what the insurance price is and the cash price,” Herrick says. “In some cases, the

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  • Tracy Haugabook, Jr.

    Health care is an issue of big concern in our society today and you, the author, has done a great job of informing consumers of their financial options. However, I’m afraid you have left out one big option in modern health, and that is the Discount Medical Plan organizations available today. These organizations such as Ameriplan and others, reduce health care costs by up to 80% and deny no one because of current illnesses. This option usually works well for patients because the price has already been negotiated for them, plus they know that they will not be denied as long as they choose a doctor with-in the organization. This is not usually a problem seeing as how most subscribers doctors are already a part of such organizations.Doctors are also highly trained professional with practices in good standing. Please look into these organizations also an option to your readers.

    Thank You,
    Tracy Haugabook, Jr.
    Student
    Argosy University

  • Gleyton

    And is there a dfcnerefie between the rights military industral complex and Obamas? Its owned by the elites and to say oh the right is always wanting to go to war . well what the fuck changed? nothing? Frank you are one STUPID ASS FUCKING DOUCHEBAG LOSER.