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Gerry's & Woody's (7) Ways To Save On Health Care Costs


1.  Seek value-oriented health care solutions.

Identify health care providers with good records for quality, cost, and safety before primary care is needed.

Consider using a primary-care physician ("PCP") or a high-quality urgent care center rather than an emergency room. Ask your PCP for specialist referrals, if needed.

Try to be proactive by identifying four types of providers:  a PCP, a specialist(s) for any existing or expected conditions, an urgent care provider, and a full-service hospital.  Your doctor and insurance company should be able to help you identify the best potential options for your situation.

2.  Communicate with health care providers.

Let the provider know if you will be paying for the service yourself so he or she is sensitive to your need to control costs.

If your objective is to receive only those health care services that are absolutely necessary, to minimize costs you should explicitly state this before any procedures or services are ordered or rendered.

Depending on the type of product or service you need, you may want to ask for:

-  A clear description of the diagnosis and proposed care, free of confusing technical jargon

-  The benefits, risks, and cost alternatives to the proposed care

-  Cost comparisons for alternative treatments

-  The number of comparable cases the provider handles

-  Qualifications of the key personnel involved

-  The expected out-of-pocket charges and fees based on the proposed care, your condition, and your health plan

3.  Be prepared.

Have personal and health-related information ready in advance for your provider.

Being prepared may help reduce the length of a medical visit, help ensure that your needs are addressed in a timely manner, and reduce costs.  There can be a big cost difference in getting business done in 15 minutes versus 30 minutes or more.  So be sure to ask if visit time will affect the price.

4.  Shop around for lower cost solutions.

Seek out lower prices on products and services that have clearly established prices, such as elective care services like vision correction or cosmetic surgery.

Save money on costly prescription drugs by:

Using a generic drug.  You should review the list of available generic drug options with your doctor to see if there could be a safe, effective, and lower-cost alternative to any name brand drugs now being used.  But also check with your insurance company which generics are covered before asking your doctor to renew a prescription, as the plan's list of approved generics can change over time without a doctor's knowledge.

Get a 90-day vs. 30-day supply of medications.  Longer supplies often have a modest discount.  Also, look into preventive vs. non-preventive drugs.  If a drug is classified as preventive, it is often much less expensive than a non-preventive drug.

Double-check prices.  Don't assume that a health plan's prescription drug distributor offers the best price.  Other distributors may offer a better price for the exact same drug.  You should also check the price of your prescriptions at local retail drug stores.

5.  Be creative – think outside the U.S. box.

It pays to shop around for prescription providers and medical care facilities.  In some cases, it may even make sense to broaden your search and consider providers outside the United States if they have a particular specialty that is not cost effectively available within the U.S. You would be surprised how many highly skilled American trained surgeons today practice "travel medicine" in the friendly confines of the Bahamas, Antigua, and other leisure locations offering high quality care at a fraction of the cost as available in the US.

6.  Maximize your health care benefits.

Many health care plans are increasingly rewarding particular behaviors (e.g., healthy eating) and discouraging others (e.g., smoking).  The key is to clearly understand the products, services, and providers that are covered at the lowest cost to you, and then consistently choose these over alternative options.  At a minimum, you should take some time each year to confirm that your preferred PCP, specialist(s), hospital, dental, and vision care providers are still in your plan's network and that you remain eligible for the highest level of reimbursement.

7.  Know your rights.

All people should know their medical rights, including rights to privacy, to access medical records, to have loved ones make decisions for them when they cannot, and to have hospital visits.  But there is another set of rights to be aware of:

-  The right to know what medical services cost before they are incurred.

-  The right to select medical providers.

-  The right to choose or refuse medical services.  Although medical providers are trained to act in our best medical interest, they do not necessarily act in a patient's best financial interest; it is the patient's right to agree to or refuse services.

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 IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the state(s) of GA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced.

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