4 Ways to Lower Your Medical Bills
Filed under: Retirement
As retirees face ever-increasing medical bills, we’re all looking for ways to cut costs. You can’t count on Medicare to pay for everything you need, and you’re not even eligible for the program until age 65. If you retire earlier than 65, you might even spend a few years without health insurance! Of course, this isn’t the best plan, but even those with insurance face high out-of-pocket costs. So whether or not you’re currently covered by insurance, you’re probably looking for ways to reduce your medical expenses.
Take advantage of community health centers. More than 9,000 publicly-funded health centers now operate across the country, and no patient is ever turned away due to lack of health insurance or inability to pay. At most centers, fees are based on a sliding scale. Often these centers do not charge a co-pay for Medicare beneficiaries, allowing them to easily access wellness visits and preventive care.
See a nurse practitioner. If your regular medical group has a nurse practitioner on staff, ask to see him or her for routine check-ups and minor illnesses. Nurse practitioners usually charge lower fees than medical doctors, and tend to order fewer tests and procedures. Always follow your instincts and see a physician if you’re worried about a serious illness, but a nurse practitioner is a cost-effective alternative for solving simpler health problems.
Consult with a medical care advocate. Most people don’t know that a medical bills is often open to negotiation. A medical care advocate can negotiate with your hospital and insurance company to trim your bills, often by as much as 10 to 15 percent. It’s not worth the cost of hiring a negotiator for small bills, but it’s worth a shot if you’re experiencing the type of bills that go along with a major accident or illness.
Take advantage of local health fairs. If a community organization in your area offers periodic free health fairs, take advantage of them! You can receive free screenings for blood pressure, glaucoma, cholesterol, and other problems which may indicate a more serious health concern. This will help you catch problems earlier in their development, cutting your health risks and your future medical bills.
Of course, there is sometimes no acceptable substitute for regular visits with a medical doctor. But when you can take advantage of free or cheaper alternatives, do it!