Friday, September 5, 2008

"Keep a lid on health-care spending"

From the August 29, 2008 issue of All You magazine, on page 164, there are three great ideas regarding ways to "Keep a lid on health-care spending". Here they are...

"1. Save on prescriptions. There are lots of ways to pay less at the pharmacy. First ask your doctor if there's a generic equivalent for any drug you are taking. Then, shop around. If you live near a Wal-Mart, check out its prescription program, which offers a 30 day supply of hundreds of drugs (mostly generic) for $4--there's not income limit--as well as some birth-control and fertility medications for $9. Also consult mail-order pharmacies, especially for brand-name drugs. Recently, was charging 30 percent less than a local pharmacy for Paxil, an antidepressant, and 23 percent less for the cholesterol drug Lipitor. Medco offers similar savings; see to enroll.

2. Economize on doctor's visits. For common ailments, try a retail clinic, such as those found in CVS (under the name "Minute Clinic) and some Wal-Mart stores. One study showed that these clinics cost 25 percent less than a visit to the doctor. But make sure records of any treatment you receive are sent to your regular doctor. "These clinics aren't a substitute for your family physician, "says Brenna Haviland, manager of the Institute of Health Care Costs and Solutions with the National Business Group on Health. "It's important to have a medical 'home' where all your treatment is coordinated." Finally, never consider such clinics a substitute for the emergency room. If you're in urgent need of care, go to the nearest hospital.

3. Negotiate fees. For expensive procedures ($500 and up), ask if you can pay in two installments. Or ask for a discount if you lay out cash in advance. Don't feel squeamish about speaking up; one survey showed that about two-thirds of consumers question their doctors about treatment options and costs. Simply say the expense was unexpected."

All You Magazine, August 29, 2008, Page 164

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