How Health Care Is Changing to Combat Rising Costs

Many states and health care providers are taking steps to reduce health care costs. If you're looking to save money on medical bills, the options discussed in this guide could help.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers patients the opportunity to have online visits with doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other health care providers. Telemedicine can provide various health services at a lower cost than in-person treatment. Some insurance providers and hospitals have their own telemedicine services, and there are many independent companies that provide telemedicine services to insured and uninsured patients. A typical online consultation costs around $100. Telemedicine services can help with health concerns such as colds, sore throats, ear infections, and depression, and these health services are also ideal for follow-up appointments and prescription refills.

Savings

Health savings accounts are similar to personal savings accounts. Patients with these accounts decide how much money to place in the account, and the money can be spent on the patient's health care needs. Health savings accounts are generally offered to people who have health insurance plans with high deductibles. Employers may contribute to the patient's account in some cases. Money that is unused at the end of the year remains in the account, and the patient can use it at any time. The money stays in the health savings account if an individual switches jobs, too. Recently, Congress passed a series of laws designed to increase access to these accounts and allow patients to contribute more money to them.

Prescription Drug Discounts

Over the past few years, more discount programs have become available to patients who use prescription medications. For example, nationwide pharmacy chains, such as Kroger, have their own prescription savings plans for customers; these plans provide permanent discounts on hundreds of medications, and patients can sign up for the discount plan at any participating pharmacy location. Online companies have prescription discounts as well, and patients simply need to request a free membership card that they show to the pharmacist when filling the prescription.

These plans help customers save on brand-name and generic medicines, and some individuals end up paying 80 percent less than the retail price of their prescriptions. Some discount cards can only be used when paying without health insurance, and patients should check online and ask their pharmacist about what their cheapest options may be.

Always check with your health care provider and health insurer to find out about the latest rates and savings options for your particular health needs. If you can, check online to compare costs, and ask your pharmacist about potential options for saving on prescriptions in your area.

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