Best Ways to Save Money on Health Care Expenses

From monthly premiums, co-pays, prescription drugs to doctor’s visits – the amount of money needed for health care every year can be overwhelming. Fortunately, it is possible to save, while still getting the best medical treatment. Here are some of the best ways to save money on health care expenses.

Choose In-network Providers

In-network providers are doctors, pharmacies and other care providers who have arrangements with health insurance companies to help control medical costs. It pays to use providers within the network of one’s health plan because of the low-cost of care involved.  Visit sites like to find the plan that fits your medical needs and stays within budget.

Be sure to check the website of your insurance company to find a list of providers who are within its network. It really helps to avoid paying unexpected expenses associated with visiting out-of-network providers.

Consider a High-Deductible (HD) Plan

A high-deductible plan involves paying a high amount of out-of-pocket expenses before insurance kicks in. For people used to paying $20 office co-pays, switching to a high-deductible might seem counterproductive, especially when trying to save money. However, it can actually help save hundreds of dollars per month because of the lower monthly premiums. For healthy families who don’t visit the doctor regularly, this option is worth considering, as it can help save some money in the end.

Most HD plans allows people to open health savings accounts, where they can save (pre-tax) money to pay for insurance premiums, as well as out-of-pocket medical expenses. Any unused money on the savings account continues to grow year after year.

Ask for Generic Prescriptions

Generic drugs are not only FDA-approved and safe, but also contain similar active ingredients as the doctor’s prescription. They are a good way to save money because they are less expensive and work the same way. Therefore, always ask your doctor if there is a generic alternative to what you’ve been suggested.

Get the Recommended Preventive Care

Regularly going for the recommended medical exams, immunizations and screenings, can help detect a problem in its early stages, making it easier to treat. In the long run, this can help save hundreds of dollars that would otherwise be used in treating serious conditions that were not detected early.

Stay Healthy

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps to stay out of the doctor’s office, thus lowering health care costs. Eating healthy foods in the right proportions, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking and regular exercise, are just some of the ways to stay healthy. For those who find it hard to hit the gym regularly, walking is an easier alternative. Make it a habit to go out daily for a quick stroll and use a pedometer to track your progress; preventative measures are the best way to shave dollars off of your health expenses.

Compare the Prices of Lab Tests and Prescription Drugs

Before visiting that doctor-recommended laboratory or pharmacy, consider visiting a couple of other medical facilities to compare their prices. Because different facilities charge differently for their services across the country, it is possible to get prescription drugs or lab tests done at a lower price.

Shop Around for the Best Price

Though we shop around for the best price when it comes to our clothes and food, we often forget to do this when it comes to health-related products like vitamins, medical alert services, topical creams and more. Just because you have a written prescription doesn’t have can’t take order items online. For example, sells discount contact lenses, enabling you to choose between more than merely the offered price of your closest pharmacy.

Check the Medical Bill Before Writing a Check

According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, about eight out of ten medical bills have errors. It is therefore in your best interest to take time, and check the medical bill thoroughly to ensure that everything is in order before paying.

If there is anything that is not clear, contact the hospital’s billing department for further clarification. Doing this will help save money that would otherwise be wasted in paying for unknown charges.

 Follow to the Doctor’s Orders

Research shows that 20 percent of patients don’t buy prescriptions they get from doctors, while another 10 percent don’t take their medications correctly. Failure to follow the doctor’s orders can make one’s condition worse, landing him back in the waiting room. This is yet another medical bill that can easily be avoided by being obedient.

The above simple tips, if implemented, can help to significantly reduce health care expenses.



  1. I don’t really see the point of going to the doctor only not to fill your prescription. I would rather not go at all, but again if you delay it, it can cost more over time.
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  2. Catherine,

    I wanted to lead off by telling you how much I love your blog! I only discovered it on Monday and have been busy reading through the archives. I am also a health care professional (pharmacist) in the Halifax area. I love how your blog applies directly to Canadians……..until I read this post. I am not aware of any “network providers” in Canada as of yet……….these are often referred to as HMOs in the US and to my knowledge there are none in Canada as of yet (with the exception of one drug plan that is managed by Lawtons and Sobeys and dictates which pharmacy a patient must go to – but they are free to visit any physician, dentist, hospital, etc). As you know, our current health care system is not sustainable so we will likely see our wonderful country move to this model in the future but this is not yet the case. In fact, even patients with this particular Lawtons plan are able to go to any pharmacy they choose, they just have to pay up front and submit receipts and then get reimbursed 90% (versus the 100% direct-pay plan if they go to Lawtons or Sobeys).

    Secondly, in Canada no one pays co-pays to visit the doctor. This is an insured service (by MSI in Nova Scotia). However, there are some non-insured services that all patients have to pay out-of-pocket (I’m not aware of any insurance plan that covers the cost). These include services such as filling out forms for drug plans, calling in refills on prescriptions, wart removal and ear syringing which are usually available for only a nominal fee of say $10-$20.

    Third, the FDA has no regulatory authority over any prescription (or non-prescription) product. All of our 23,000 drug products in Canada are approved and regulated by Health Canada (thank goodness……the FDA is notoriously much “looser” with their requirements than Health Canada which is why 99% of all meds are available in the US before they are available in Canada). Also, generic drugs contain the IDENTICAL active ingredients to the brand name alternative and have to meet very strict criteria before being allowed to be dispensed to patients. Also, pharmacists automatically dispense the generic alternative unless the physician (or patient) specifically requests the brand name……this helps save health care dollars (especially with our provincial drug plans).

    Finally, because of provincial price parity, all pharmacies in any given province charge the same price for the drug,…..but their professional fee differs which is where there is a price discrepancy (and it should really never be more than $4-6 in Nova Scotia per prescription). For example, Drug A will cost $15 for 30 tabs at all pharmacies in NS. Costco may fill the Rx for $15 + an $6.10 fee = $21.10 where Shoppers Drug Mart would cost you $15 + a $12.10 fee = $27.10. However, you have to realize that you are paying for your extra service. If the pharmacist realizes that you cannot take Drug A as you are allergic to it, the Shoppers pharmacist will call your physician for an alternate drug. From my understanding (I’ve never worked for a company that discounts their fee), that Costco pharmacist will hand you back that prescription and tell you to go back to the doctor. I am willing to pay an extra $6 to save my time. 😉

    So sorry for the length of this post……I felt compelled to write as I think that this is likely leading some of your Canadian readers astray. We are so lucky to have the health care system that we do and are so much better off than the USA! I am always so thankful when speaking with friends in the US who have been faced with a $15,000-$20,000 bill after having a baby and all I had to pay for the entire pregnancy was $300 so that I could have a private room (and that would have been covered had I been covered under insurance)!

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