Save Thousands On Your Health Care

"The patient can go back to an account administrator and say, 'This is really difficult for me. Is there anything you can do?' And we can," says Ruth Levin, vice president for managed care at Continuum Health Partners in New York City. "The number of payers, including patients and insurance plans, who pay hospitals 100 percent of our charges is probably less than 2 percent."

*Save 10 to 30 percent

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

3. Question Follow-Up Appointments

"When a doctor tells you to come back, whether it's in three weeks, six months, or a year, ask why. A phone call might suffice," says Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., dean and vice president of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and author of Health Care Half Truths: Too Many Myths, Not Enough Reality.

When a specialist orders a test, such as an X-ray or MRI, ask your primary-care doctor if it's necessary. Seventeen percent of U.S. adults say their doctors have ordered duplicates of medical tests, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan health care foundation in New York City.

If you're going for a second opinion, sign out your X-rays or MRI scans from your doctor and bring them with you.

*Save $20 (office visit) to $300 (your share of the average cost of an MRI under an insurance plan that reimburses only 80 percent)

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

4. Ask for Cheaper Drugs

Doctors aren't always aware of how much medication costs.

"We don't know which drugs are covered and which aren't when we discuss them with patients," says Dr. Doug Farrago, a family physician in Auburn, Maine. Ask your physician if there's a less expensive but equally effective alternative to the drug you're prescribed.

*Save Up to 75 percent (the difference between a "preferred" drug and one not covered by insurance)

Caveat: "Just be sure your doctor is intimately familiar with the benefits and risks of the alternate drugs for your condition," says Dr. Jerome P. Kassirer, distinguished professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and author of On the Take: How Medicine's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health.

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

5. Plead Your Case Directly with Your Doc

If you're experiencing serious hardship, talk directly to your doctor: They are in the profession because they want to do good and tend to be more forgiving of outstanding balances than many billing managers.

"They are the ones who can direct their billing department to give the patient a break," says Levin.

*Save Up to 70 percent

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

6. Arrange Independent Lab Work

Cut the cost of blood and urine analyses by using MyMedLab.com. Once your doctor gives you a prescription for a test, have blood drawn at one of 3,000 collection sites nationwide; the vials are then mailed to independent labs.

"You can get more than 30 blood readings and analyses starting at about $95 — around 75 percent less than getting the same tests at a hospital," says Herrick. The lab will mail the results to both you and your doctor.

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