Comparison Shopping for Medical Procedures? New Ways to Save on Health Care

An estimated 46 million Americans don't have health insurance, and with the troubled economy those who are covered worry constantly about what could happen if they lose their jobs and company health care coverage.

Last year American families spent an average of $6,000 out of pocket for health insurance and other medical costs, and that number is expected to rise to $9,000 by 2012, according to figures from the National Coalition of Health Care.

Mellody Hobson, "Good Morning America" personal finance contributor and president of Ariel Investments, appeared on "GMA" today to talk about how you can cut health care costs.

VIDEO: Mellody Hobson explains how to save big on health care costs.
Mellody Hobson's Tips for Saving on Health Care

Click HERE to see how you can find discounted vaccinations for kids and other web extra tips.

Ways to Cut Health Care Costs

Discount Clubs

For a monthly fee ranging from $12 to $30 per person, members can have access to doctors, dentists and more affordable drugs, among other benefits, Hobson said.

The clubs can be tremendously helpful for those people who don't have health insurance, or who lack dental, vision or chiropractic coverage.

Depending on the medical procedure required, members may have to pay cash at the time of their appointment.

This isn't health insurance, therefore members don't have to worry about ever being denied coverage, and the savings can be significant, she said. Many of these plans can be used when individuals have maxed out their insurance coverage for the year, resulting in reduced out-of-pocket expenses.

For example, with AmeriPlan USA, members can save up to 65 percent of the cost of fillings, crowns and other dental work, and up to 80 percent on preventative medical care, Hobson said.

Another club, Careington, offers up to 80 percent off of lab costs and 45 percent off of doctor's visits. Hobson advised interested people to check to make sure the club cover covers their area before they sign up.

Don't Forget Union, Organizational Discounts

These are perks that many people forget about, she said.

For example, the AARP has a vision discount plan that saves members 30 percent on eyeglasses and 30 percent on contact lenses at select retailers. Some unions, including the AFL-CIO, have built into their memberships discounts for prescription drugs, vision and dental needs.

Some companies will offer additional discounts -- separate from those offered by employee medical insurance plans -- on contacts or glasses purchased from certain suppliers, she said.

Make sure to check your employer or any other organizations to which you belong to see if you can get additional savings.

Comparison Shop

Very few people shop around for health care, especially when it comes to services that aren't covered by their insurance, but there are websites that allow people to literally comparison shop by medical procedure to find the lowest price. allows people to select a procedure, put in their zip code and, with one click, receive multiple quotes for a range of procedures, Hobson said.

Some doctors will list their lowest price and others will actually negotiate with you via the "make me an offer" option on the website, she said. is another good site for finding deals on health care, Hobson added.

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