Cutting Health Care Costs: From Buying Generic to Tax Deductions

The cost of health care includes anything from surgical fees to hospital room rates to administrative fees to medication. Here’s how to keep the lid on costs.

Buy generic pills

Whenever possible, opt for generic medication. In general, generic drugs are 50% to 75% cheaper than patented drugs. Generic pills are identical to the patented ones in terms of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, safety in terms of its studied side effects, strength, route of administration, quality, purity, performance characteristic and intended use.

Avoid extra costs

If your test results are up to date, bring them along when you are admitted to hospital so you don’t have to undergo the tests again. However, bear in mind that not all historical tests can be used, as some conditions will require very current information. You can also say no to having a television set in your room or a toiletries kit in the bathroom, although the cost saving may be small.

Opt for deductibles

Already covered by your employer? One way to save on costs and still have medical insurance is to purchase a plan that comes with a deductible option. Under such a plan, your company’s group insurance covers up to a certain amount, after which your policy will foot the remainder, if any.

Ask for itemized billing

Regardless of whether you are paying with cash or claiming under your insurance policy, ask for an itemized bill before you make your payment. Check your bill thoroughly. Mistakes could happen, though they are rare. Medical professionals such as doctors and surgeons are required to adhere to ceiling prices in their fees.

Don’t forget the tax exemptions

Paying less tax may not be an obvious way to reduce costs, but it does mean that you have more money in your pocket. You would be eligible for a tax exemption and personal tax relief for medical insurance premiums.

Ask for estimates

Ask your doctor for an estimate of the cost of treatment, consultation and medication. Patients can ask for an estimate of costs before treatment begins. Discounts might also be given on a case-by-case basis, where hospitals will ask for a salary slip or other necessary documents as proof of income. In some cases they can also ask to pay in installments.

Select the right time and doctor

If the situation allows it, pick the right time to seek medical treatment and choose your consultant carefully. Specialist fees can cost more than four times what general practitioners charge and going for consultation after hours may also cost you up to 50% above the usual rate. Hospital administrative charges may also increase.

Tap your employer

Many employers provide not only medical and hospitalization insurance but also pay for preventive health measures like pap smears and yearly check-ups. Some foot the medical bills of employees’ spouses and children. So, check with your human resources department to find out the details of your medical coverage and allowances.