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How to Save on Health Care Without Skimping on Quality

Being frugal and saving money on everything run through my blood. I have patience, sometimes waiting years in order to score a great deal on an item I want, and I am willing to compromise on quality in some cases.

However, like many of you, health care is not an area I am willing to be patient in, or to compromise on quality. I always carry a health insurance policy, whether working and having access to a group plan during open enrollment [1], or in between jobs and purchasing an individual health care plan [2]. If I need medication, I no sooner leave the doctor’s office than go straight to a drugstore and fill it. Does this mean that I must compromise on cost savings? Certainly not.

How to Save on Health Care

Here are six ways that both group-insured and self-insured people can save money on health care and medical costs:

  1. Go Hybrid. If you are purchasing your own health care plan, then raising the deductible you will have to pay to use the service will decrease your monthly premium costs. To make up for this high deductible you could potentially pay out, make sure you keep a savings account to essentially insure yourself the amount of a deductible should a medical issue arise.
  2. Use Prescription Drug Coupons. Go to websites like Internet Drug Coupons [3] and see if there is a coupon for co-pays for your prescription medications.
  3. Make Use of MinuteClinic. Take advantage of the MinuteClinic at CVS and various drugstores/pharmacies for minor issues that on-staff nurse practitioners can diagnose such as the flu, strep throat, bladder infections, sinus problems, and wellness checkups. For example, currently Houston area CVS MinuteClinics are offering over $150 in Health Services for free on particular dates (includes screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, bone density, cholesterol, and even dental and chiropractic services are available at certain locations). Also available are doctor consultations, medication reviews, and certain referrals that you normally may have to go to a general practitioner appointment to get.  
  4. Transfer Prescriptions. Transferring prescriptions is very simple, and each time you do it, you can get a gift card for $10-$35 at many stores (CVS, Randall’s/Safeway, Walgreens, Target, etc.). Keep a look out on the internet or in Sunday newspaper circulars for coupons to transfer your prescriptions (or to fill a new prescription) and clip them to keep on hand in case you unexpectedly become ill and need medication. Just take your current prescription bottle, your insurance card, and the coupon to the pharmacy department at the store and they will do all the work for you!
  5. Generics. Always ask your doctor to prescribe generics, and also call them to see if there is a generic available for the prescriptions you are currently taking.
  6. Use Your Phone. One of the best ways to save in copays on office visits is to not go into a doctor’s office. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask the doctor if you can do your follow-up over the phone. If you have chronic conditions that require the same medications, ask for the doctor to call-in refills over the phone.