Ah, the American healthcare system — few people really understand how it works and most don’t want to, but there’s one thing that everybody seems to agree on: Healthcare in the U.S. costs too much. Luckily, we have tips on how to avoid spending more of your hard-won money on healthcare than you have to, without skimping on the state of your health.
Stick with generics.
When a new medication hits the market, it’s usually launched with a brand name and a big ad campaign, and for a while the medication formula is “under patent”, meaning that no other company can produce it. But after that patent expires, other pharmaceutical companies can legally manufacture the same medication formula. These medications are called “generics” and they don’t come with fancy marketing but they have the exact same effects in your body, and are usually a whole lot less expensive.
The Nurx medical team almost always prescribes generic medications, for birth control, PrEP, and most treatments (one occasional exception being migraine treatments, because there are some cutting-edge migraine medications without a generic equivalent). Generics keep things affordable for you and, again, they’re just as effective as the big name brands. Any time you receive a new prescription, ask if there is a generic option as they are almost always cheaper.
Get shots in (your) arms.
Since you’ve hopefully had three COVID vaxxes in the past year, why not go further and make sure you’re up to date on all the immunizations? Getting vaccinated is a money-saving move, because the flu, shingles, hepatitis or any other vaccine-preventable condition will cost you in copays, time away from work and general misery. Immunizations are free under most insurance plans (and often free to the uninsured at public clinics). Plus they’re available without an appointment at many pharmacies.
Remember prevention is cheaper than cure.
Being proactive about your health helps your bottom line. By getting your screenings on schedule (like STI testing and HPV screening) you’ll catch infections before they escalate. Take birth control unless you’re ready to have (and pay for!) a baby, and consider PrEP if you’re at risk of HIV.
Understand your insurance.
Birth control, PrEP and most recommended screenings are free under health insurance plans, as are smoking cessation services and many other types of preventive care. Here is a list of preventive care that most insurance plans are required by law to cover. But it pays to know the details of your specific plan: What’s covered, what isn’t and what your copays and costs will be. This will help when you go to the doctor and they order medications, procedures, or additional visits.
Check bills for errors.
Medical bills and insurance benefit statements aren’t exciting reading, but force yourself to review them, because errors are common. This article explains how to spot and correct errors.
Save with an FSA/HSA.
Stash pre-tax dollars in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) so you can use the money to pay for health and medical expenses while lowering your taxable income. You can spend these dollars on way more than copays — they can also be put toward dental work, eyeglasses, sunscreen, period undies and anything on FSAstore.com.
Look for payment assistance.
If you are having trouble paying for a prescription, never cut pills in half or space out your doses to save on costs. Instead, tell your healthcare provider and talk about alternatives, or check the website of the pharmaceutical company that makes your treatment — often they have payment assistance plans or copay cards for those who seek them out.
When fall rolls around, assess whether you should schedule non-urgent medical appointments and procedures before the end of the year, or wait until the new year. Most health insurance plans with deductibles reset on the calendar year, so if you’ve met your deductible it makes sense to schedule procedures before the new year.. On the other hand, if you haven’t hit your deductible you might save money by scheduling non-urgent appointments after January 1, so they will count toward next year’s deductible.
Talk to your doc about dollars.
Don’t be shy about sharing financial concerns with your medical providers. They won’t necessarily know or remember your financial or insurance situation, so speak up and ask about costs and options when you’re discussing tests or treatment plans. There might be a way your provider can steer your toward a more affordable course of care without compromising your treatment.
Making high-quality care more affordable has always been central to the Nurx mission. In addition to billing insurance and offering transparent out-of-pocket prices, Nurx makes healthcare more wallet-friendly by preventing the need for patients to take time away from work or life and pay for transportation, parking or childcare to see a medical provider in person. Learn more about the care that Nurx provides.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.