Monday, November 26, 2007

Health Care and Saving Money

Saving money when we make a purchase is as American as the Fourth of July. We just like to know that when we have bought a new car or a new suit that we got a real deal. No one wants to spend more than they should have when a better price is available. Of course, the same should apply to health care. We want to know that we are getting a good deal when it comes to saving money when we see the doctor or go to the pharmacy. Who wants to pay an outrageous medical bill when the same quality of care is available somewhere else at a better price?

No wonder Wal-Mart, Target, and other retailers have found gold in offering $4 generics. A September 27, 2007 article on quoted the Wal-Mart CFO giving a statistic of $613 million in savings over the prior 12 months for their pharmacy customers. This is huge! You would think that the price would be a loss leader, but Wal-Mart claims to be making money even at $4 per perscription. Good for them, and great for the American consumer! While government, the drug industry, and the FDA try to figure out how to make health care more complicated, private industry steps up to the plate and actually reduces costs.

While there is no "silver bullet" to control the cost of health care in the U.S., there are a few ways for Americans to make sure that they maintain a standard of acceptable care without declaring bankruptcy. One way is to shop for good insurance at affordable rates, and make sure that the coverage works the way you want it to at the price you can afford. There are some very good insurance plans in the marketplace. Don't let an insurance agent talk you into a plan that does not meet your needs. Insurance agents are paid healthy commissions to sign you up for insurance coverage, so make them work for their money. Compare prices and benefits and choose what makes sense for your needs.

Also, check out High Deductible insurance plans and HSAs to save even more money. Insurance should be used to offset catastrophic needs, not every sniffle, minor headache or sore throat. When your deductible is high, your premium is low. Americans have been brainwashed to think the opposite way. So we need to change our thinking when it comes to health care and saving money. Why pay for a Mercedes when you only need to drive a Ford? Don't get greedy. HSAs help with the day to day expenses of going to the doctor, getting new glasses, or seeing a dentist. They force you to save money and use your health care dollars wisely so you can get preventive health care without spending a fortune.

Learn about preventive measures to get and stay healthy. Join a health club and go regularly to help lose weight and get fit. Get some decent regular exercise. Start eating a healthier diet. Go for regular check ups to your family doctor. If you are a smoker, STOP SMOKING. How can anyone continue that habit after all the medical news that has been made public in the last few years about cancer and other fatal diseases related to smoking? Don't do drugs. Don't do drugs. Don't do drugs. Do I need to day it again? Don't do drugs! Make sure that you are taking care of your health on a pro-active basis. Don't wait for something to happen that may take a toll on your health. Learn to be responsible for your own well-being.

Additionally, you may want to opt for a discount savings plan for ancillary medical needs. In lieu of insurance, these plans can save you alot of money over rack rates charged at the point of service. There are networks involved, so check out who is participating in your area before you sign up and go. Verify, verify, verify. Remember, there are plenty of businesses ready to take your money. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company that is registered to do business in your state. Also, you will want to get a copy of the Terms and Conditions before you sign up. Check on the refund policy, and talk with a supervisor if you are not happy with the sales rep who sold you the plan. These plans do save money, and they can be a good alternative if you are not insured. They also can work in conjunction with some insurance plans to help save even more health care dollars.

Let me know what you think.

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