If you’re like most New Year’s Resolution makers, you’re probably thinking about a resolution related to your health or your wallet. If that sounds like you, we’ve got you covered! This list is filled with tips that can help you get the most out of your health care, which can help you save money and grow healthy.
Choose Generic Drugs
Even if you have insurance, prescriptions can be expensive. You may be able to save by asking your doctor and pharmacist if there’s a generic option available. Generic drugs are identical to the ‘brand name’ version in every way, including dosage form, safety, strength, how you take it, quality, and performance. They are reviewed, monitored, and regulated by the same organization that oversees the name brands. The only difference is that generic drugs are usually 80% to 85% less than brand name drugs.
Check if Your Health Plan Offers Mail-Order Pharmacy
Many insurance companies offer a mail-order pharmacy program that allows you to pay for up to 90 days’ worth of medication for just the price of a single copay. You’ll also save time and gas money by having your medications delivered right to your house.
Talk to Your Doctor About Freebies
If money is an issue and paying for medication is leaving your budget thin, talk to your doctor. Ask if there are free samples of your medication. Many drug manufacturers offer programs to help patients save money on their prescriptions. Ask your doctor if their staff can help you find out if you’re eligible for any.
Don’t Go to an Emergency Room Unless It’s a True Emergency
It’s 2 in the morning, and your five-year-old daughter wakes up with an earache and a fever. You worry and decide that it’s too important to wait, so you go to the emergency room. You spend three hours waiting to see a doctor who prescribes children’s aspirin. Six weeks later, you get a bill for $1,300 – and that’s after your insurance paid. If you had waited to go to your normal doctor, your bill might have been $50.
Emergency room visits can be very expensive. They are for emergencies only: when there is a threat to life or limb. For everything else, your normal primary care doctor or even urgent care is a much cheaper alternative.
See Your Doctor Regularly
The best way to stay healthy is to see your doctor regularly for age-appropriate screenings and preventative care. Your doctor may find conditions early while they can still be treated more easily – for example, if a regular checkup reveals a patient has prediabetes, a condition that can be successfully managed with a few lifestyle changes. In many cases, if not caught early, prediabetes can worsen and become diabetes, a serious and often costly disease to treat.
If You’re on a Health Plan, Make Sure You See In-Network Doctors
When making an appointment, check that your doctor is in your health plan’s network, even if you’ve visited them before. Some plans will only cover your visit if you see a doctor in the network, so you can save hundreds of dollars by making sure. Your membership ID card should have instructions for how to check.
Take Advantage of Covered Screenings
Under the Affordable Care Act, plans purchased in the marketplace and many other plans must cover a variety of services, tests, visits, and immunizations, all at no cost to you. Some of those services include:
- Flu shots
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk of chronic disease
- Cholesterol screening
- Breast cancer screening mammograms for women over 40
- Tobacco use screening and cessation programs
If You Have Private Insurance, Find Out About Wellness Programs
Many large health insurance companies offer members free wellness programs and services to help achieve common health goals, such as healthy eating, weight loss, stress management, and even discounts on over-the-counter drugs. Some insurers even offer members a discount for enrolling in wellness programs and tracking their progress. To find out if your plan has these programs, visit your insurance’s website, or call the number on the back of your membership ID card to learn more.
You Don’t Need a Gym to Get Fit
If you’re looking to lose weight or tone up, skip the expensive gym membership and instead, work out with things you probably already have at home. Thanks to Southern California’s amazing weather, there are a variety of year-round outdoor exercises that can help you stay in shape.
We Are Here to Help
If you don’t currently have a health plan and have questions, AltaMed is here to help! Call us so we can walk you through your options for free.
If you have questions or concerns about your health, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. We want you to make regular doctor visits a habit, and there are many convenient AltaMed locations for you to choose from.