Tending to medical issues is time consuming. The average American spends more than two hours on every visit to the doctor, which costs around $43 in lost productivity.
However, there are ways to save money and time when you need medical attention. Try these tips and tricks to ease your healthcare headaches.
Explore a Direct Primary Care Practice
With the direct primary care model, getting access to a doctor is as easy as paying for a Netflix subscription. This type of care allows patients to pay a monthly rate for access to the practice’s medical professionals. This model is a good option if you don’t have any major underlying medical conditions and don’t regularly see specialists.
Plus, there are some perks to going this route. For example, some doctors give subscribing patients access to them via text. Have a weird bug bite on your arm? Text the doctor a picture, and he or she can call-in a cream to your pharmacy or tell you to schedule an appointment. Depending on the practice, some providers even perform simple blood tests, like cholesterol, in-house and offer prescriptions at a reduced rate.
Search for “direct primary care” in your city to see if practices in your area offer this model.
Order Prescriptions Online
Imagine a trip to the pharmacy without trying to waste 20 minutes in the store while your order is filled or navigating multiple phone menus to secure a refill. If you aren’t ordering your prescriptions online, you’re missing out on a major life hack.
Companies like Walgreens and CVS have easy-to-use web portals where patients can input new insurance information, update preferences and order refills. It doesn’t save you a trip to the pharmacy, but it takes some of the headache out of handling everything at the counter.
Skip the trip entirely by using mail-delivery prescription services like OptumRx or Express Scripts, which deliver the medicines you need to your door. Many insurance providers partner with mail-delivery pharmacies, so check your benefits to see if this service is available for you.
What if you don’t have a prescription, yet know what you need? It’s frustrating to spend time and money on a doctor’s appointment only to spend more time and money getting what the doctor prescribed. Today some online-only companies offer prescriptions for medication like birth control without ever having to set foot into a doctor’s office.
Schedule a Video Visit
While it feels a little strange to visit with your doctor via Zoom, utilizing telemedicine services is easier than ever thanks to COVID-19. Many offices that didn’t previously offer this type of visit do now.
A video visit is faster, and often safer, than an in-person one: A telemedicine visit offers the same level of care for minor ailments. There’s no time spent waiting in a room full of other potentially sick patients. The waiting room is the comfort of your home or behind the closed door of your office. There’s no need to take an hour off of work to account for the commute time to and from an appointment. Plus, seeing a doctor virtually means you might be able to work with specialists who aren’t in your area.
Even if your doctor’s office doesn’t offer video services, they likely utilize a digital medical chart system, like MyChart or Spruce. Through this platform you can ask your doctor questions that might help them decide whether or not you need to make a trip into the office.
Know Your Benefits
While thousands of Americans are uninsured, many do have health insurance plans through the Marketplace or their employer. Having insurance is important, but what’s more critical is that you understand your benefits and how they get applied. This takes a few different forms.
First, before you visit a new doctor or have a procedure done, contact your insurance provider. You’ll want to know whether or not the doctor is in-network on your insurance plan. For tests and procedures, ask the agent to help you find the most cost effective facility. Sometimes prices after insurance vary by hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re using services housed in a hospital. Most insurance companies have provider and medical facility directories on their websites, but it’s always good to call and confirm what you’re seeing online.
Second, know how your benefits get applied and always read your explanation of benefits (EOB). If you’ve never dabbled in the insurance world before, it’s helpful to first familiarize yourself with the lingo. Then, read your EOB and check the math to make sure everything adds up. You will be surprised how often it doesn’t come out correctly. Related, never pay a medical bill without first reviewing the EOB.
This process itself might sound headache-inducing, but it could save you thousands — and the frustration of trying to pay unexpectedly high medical bills — in the long run. You pay your insurance to work for you, so knowing your rights and how it functions up front is essential.
Get Preventative Care
When possible — and sometimes it’s not possible for all people in every stage of life — have a yearly physical and age-appropriate tests performed. More appointments don’t sound like they will save you trips to the doctor’s office, but the data supports it.
According to a study by the CDC, in 2016 the total direct costs for treatment of chronic diseases was more than $1 trillion. If you factor in lost economic productivity, the cost increases to $3.7 trillion. Stopping chronic diseases starts with preventative care. However, in 2015 only 8 percent of adults 35 or older received the recommended preventative care measures.
It’s easy to neglect your health when you’re feeling good. Yet, it’s more time-consuming and costly to only seek medical attention once you have a problem. Often those who don’t seek, or have access to, regular preventative care go in for one medical complaint only to find several health issues have compounded.
Being healthy is something everyone wants, but staying on top of your health will save you headaches and money in the future.