Need ideas and strategies for saving on health and medical care? I have some suggestions.
So what can we do to save money on receiving the medical care we need as baby boomers?
Save Money on Prescriptions
Prescription drugs is one area where a little work can go a long way. First, determine if there is a generic alternative to the expensive name brand. Your pharmacist can probably tell you that. Or you can check the comprehensive listings of brand name drugs and generic equivalents at the government MedLine drug information site. However, unless the prescribing physician has indicated on the prescription form that a generic substitute is acceptable, you will have to obtain a new prescription to switch to the generic.
If you have prescription drug coverage through an insurance plan, that plan or the pharmacy benefit provider will usually have a website where you can compare prices and lower-cost alternatives for the drugs you need. Some of them actually sponsor mail-order pharmacies where you can find even better prices.
If you do not have prescription drug coverage or just want to compare retail prices generally, try DestinationRx. This site provides information on high and low prices for different drugs and comparative retail prices at different pharmacies in your area.
Save by Using a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account
Unless you have a chronic health problem that regularly consumes your deductible, a health savings account (HSA) is a great way to save money on the cost of medical insurance.
To find HSA providers and to compare costs and plan benefits, try Vimo. This site also rates different HSA plans using a numeric scoring system.
Don’t forget that with a little planning, an HSA can be used for tax-free investing. If you can handle it in your budget you should max out your HSA contributions up to the annual contribution limits.
Most large employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) but a much smaller percentage of employees actually enroll. An FSA allows you to set aside part of your paycheck for health expenses. You don’t pay taxes on the amount you set aside. The exact limit depends on your employer but it’s typically between $2,000 to $5,000.) The big downside of an FSA compared to an HSA is that you cannot roll unused FSA funds into the next year. It’s spend it or lose it.
Negotiate and Comparison Shop for Medical Care
Now more than ever it pays to negotiate for health care services. Call and ask what the procedure will cost. If it is a hospital procedure, you can check out the reputation of the hospital using the Medicare Hospital Compare site.
Before negotiating the cost of a medical procedure, be sure to find out the typical charge for that procedure in your area. That gives you some comparison data that you will need.
Find the Best Price for Insurance
For dental insurance, try DentalPlans.com.
I will continue to update this post with other resources that might help boomers save money on health care. If you know of any, please let me know in a comment.