If you have found yourself without health insurance, whether you are between jobs, or you work for yourself and can’t afford a plan right now, that does not mean that you should go without medical care.
Getting health issues addressed is vitally important to maintain your health long-term, and can help reduce the progression of certain diseases.
Below, we will cover 7 ways that you can save some money on your healthcare when you are paying out of pocket.
1. Consider using a Local Community Health Center
These centers can often adjust what you pay according to your income, and this can be much less than other clinics.
Of course, a Community Health Center will not be able to address all health issues, but they can help you out with vaccines, prenatal care, and general primary care conditions. If you do need a referral to a specialist they may be able to help guide you to one in the area that can help you at a lower price point.
2. Call Around and Compare Costs
Not all offices and healthcare providers have the same cash prices.
If you need an x-ray, a tooth pulled, or a mole removed, you can make a quick call to offices to see what their cash price is for these procedures. You are likely to find a wide range of prices and may find one that is more affordable for you.
Be sure to take notes when you are being quoted prices to make sure that is what you end up paying for the procedure.
3. Use Telemedicine Visits when you can
Telemedicine services are popping up quickly, and many of them have a system easily adaptable (or made for) cash-paying customers.
Many telemedicine services can handle health issues that can be easily diagnosable or treated from a distance, and most have transparent pricing listed right on their website.
Since there is normally just one clear fee associated with telemedicine visits, you may be able to save money overall.
4. Ask if they can offer a Discount for Paying Cash
If you need to pay cash for a doctor’s visit or procedure, ask upfront if they can offer a discount to cash-paying customers.
Since the office will be getting the payment immediately, they may be able to give you 5-10% off of the bill for paying cash.
5. Fill your Prescriptions at Independent Pharmacies
Often, the cash prices for medications at chain pharmacies can be extremely expensive. However, local independent pharmacies can have more personal control over their pricing and may be able to offer you cash prices on your common medications at a much lower cost than the chains.
Call around to your local pharmacies and see how much they can fill your prescription for if you are paying cash. You will likely get different prices from each pharmacy you talk to.
Find a pharmacy with prices in your price range and then become a customer with them to save money year-round when refilling your prescriptions.
6. Ask if your Doctor has Samples
If your doctor tells you that you need to start on medication and writes you a prescription, ask them if they have any samples of the medication that you can use for a while.
Often doctors have many samples that they can give to patients to see if a medication works for them, or give them some time before they need to fill (and pay for) their prescription at the pharmacy.
7. Use Generic Medications when you can
In almost every situation, the generic form of the medication is significantly cheaper than the brand-name drug.
Generic medications have been FDA-approved for bioequivalence to the brand name drug and proven to function the same in your body. By making sure all of your medications are generic (when possible), you can save hundreds of dollars while still using the exact same active ingredients.
Of course, not all medications have a generic form and it is possible that only the brand medication has been released for the time being.
In this case, make sure to tell your doctor that you are paying out of pocket for medications and would prefer to stick with generic medications or less expensive options when possible. Your doctor will likely be able to find less expensive alternatives for you when they exist.