Nearly 45 million Americans are living without health insurance and another 25 million more are underinsured. What’s more, half of Americans who have health insurance skip seeing their health care providers and forgo taking their prescription medication due to prohibitive costs.
To combat this serious problem, Dr. Oz has gathered information to help you dramatically cut medical costs, whether you’re employed or unemployed, insured or uninsured.
Here are the top money-saving secrets from the 4 health-care professionals you visit the most.
Save Money on Pap Smears
A Pap smear tests for cancer of the cervix and is the most critical method for early detection. Women need to have Pap smears annually starting within 3 years of becoming sexually active or at age 21. If you can’t afford to see a gynecologist, you can get a Pap for free. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) orchestrates Free Pap Smear Day, held every year on the second Friday in January, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Visit www.nccc-online.org to find out more, or call your doctor or local hospital to see if they participate in the event.
Discounts on Lab Tests
Lab tests often comprise a huge chunk of out-of-pocket expenses. But did you know there are discount cards for lab tests? These cover blood work, Pap smears, cultures, etc., and can cut your bill by 30%. Don’t be shy and ask your doctor about them.
Free Breast Exams
During October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – many medical practitioners provide free breast exams and tests. Call your local hospital for details. In addition, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act provides low-income and uninsured women free or discounted access to mammograms. Go to www.cdc.gov, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Click here for more on when to start having mammograms.
If you think you’re saving money by skipping annual physicals, think again. Prevention and early detection are the biggest money savers of all.
Build Your Own Network
If you’re in financial need, contact a social worker affiliated with your local hospital or doctor’s medical practice. Based on your eligibility, they can help you obtain health care coverage, create an affordable payment plan, or alleviate costs entirely.
Drug Store or Grocery Store Clinics
These outfits offer convenience and midlevel providers (nurses, physician assistants) who can provide high-quality routine treatments at a low cost. Typical services include:
- Flu shots
- Physical exams
- Respiratory screenings
- Treatment for minor injuries or infections
Free Health Clinics
Many people think it’s no big deal to skip dental appointments, but that’s a mistake since regular visits protect you against gum disease and other serious ailments. Click here for more information on the importance of annual dentist appointments.
If you can’t afford to see a dentist, visit a dental school in your area. Dental-school clinics can save you as much as 75% on care and often run free screenings.
Know How to Negotiate
Most people simply don’t realize that they can negotiate costs at their dentist’s office. Here are some tips:
- If you’re scheduled to have multiple procedures, ask for a discount on the entire cost. For instance, if you’re due for a reconstructive treatment plan, you might be able to save up to 15%.
- Negotiate with the dentist instead of the folks at the front desk who are usually not in a position to offer discounts.
- Ask for a cash discount.
- If you refer a patient, ask if you’re eligible for a discount or a free service.
Eye Doctor’s Office
The 3 O’s
To avoid paying for unnecessary services, know the difference between the 3 O’s:
- Ophthalmologist: MD who can diagnose and treat complicated eye problems such as glaucoma, perform surgery, etc.
- Optometrist: Doctor of optometry skilled in carrying out basic eye exams and writing prescriptions.
- Optician: Trained professional who sells glasses and fills prescriptions.
Buy Contacts Online
Get your prescription from a doctor, but then go online to search for the best deals available. Before purchasing, ask your eye-care provider if they’ll beat the price.
EyeCareAmerica, the foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology helps eligible seniors obtain free or discounted vision care. The AARP, AAA and the VA also offer great discounts for seniors. Visit them online to find out more.
Purchase eyeglass frames from this doctor-approved website for as little as $8.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You’ll save money before stepping into any doctor’s office if you take good care of yourself by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. Click here to get started on your personal health plan from Dr. Oz.