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Choosing a Medical Insurance Plan - Part III

In Part II, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the three most common medical plans and some simple but important terminologies. Let’s talk about some simple ways to reduce your medical and prescription costs.

Simple ways to reduce your medical and prescription costs

Healthcare costs is steadily increasing each year. Employers seem to be fielding less of the cost as well. This increases premiums, co-insurance, and out of pocket costs for individuals.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorses the importance of regular check-ups. Getting one is free because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, eliminated payment for all well-visits such as annual physicals, pap smear and mammogram for women, Prostate-Specific Antigen tests, commonly known as PSA for men, and colonoscopies (specific age apply here). It is very important to have a regular check-up as it can save you hundreds in health care cost if there are any hidden health issues as it will be discovered early.

Here are a few tips for savings money.

If you live in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia, The Publix Pharmacy has a limited free medication program offers which included Amoxicillin (children), Ampicillin, SMZ-TMP, Ciprofloxacin, Penicillin VK, amlodipine, Lisinopril and Metformin (diabetic drug) plus 90-day generic drugs starting at $7.50. Check with your local store to see what they offer.

If you live in one of the states not mentioned above, check with your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS or other local pharmacies to find out about low-cost generics. They are all competing, so they all offer some form of discounts. GoodRx and OneRx also allows you to shop for lowest cost and/or coupons.

Know when to visit clinics and hospitals

Depending on where you visit when you are not feeling your best will determine how much money you pay out-of-pocket.

a. Visit a Retail Clinic – like the CVS Minute Clinic or Walgreens Healthcare Clinic. Visit here when your doctor is closed, or you cannot get a sick appointment. There is a quick turn-around, the co-pay is typically the same as a physician visit and your prescription is sent to the pharmacy immediately.

b. Visit an Urgent Care Center when you may have a more serious issue that may need an X-Ray. Many open until 8 or 9 pm and most are open on weekends. Many provide in-office X-rays and MRIs. The co-pay is like that of specialist visit. Also has quick turn-around time.

c. Visit an Emergency Room if you feel a tightening of the chest or pain radiating in the left arm - heart attack, a stroke, the flu, broken bones, severe allergic reactions, or severe unexplained pains. Co-pay vary based on insurance but can be up to 5 times the cost of an urgent care visit with lengthy wait times but will be your best option if you have a severe case.

Wrapping Up

Over the past three months, we discussed why you should be covered in a medical insurance plan; the advantages, and disadvantages of the three most common medical insurance plans and terminologies; and some simple ways to reduce your medical and prescription costs. Medical insurance coverage is important, but most important is getting coverage in a plan that is right for you and your family to guard against unexpected costs when illness arise. I hope you are now more prepared when you are tasked with choosing a medical insurance plan for you and your family. This could mean the difference between frustration and peace of mind.

Paula Hamilton, SHRM-CP, PHR

Copy Editor and Contributor


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