Shop Around for Non-Emergent Care
In the event you need a diagnostic test or minor procedure done, shop around for the best price for your insurance. Prices for things like blood work and x-rays can vary wildly among doctor offices, hospitals, etc so it's important to do your homework.
Shop Around for Prescriptions
What you'll pay out-of-pocket on your prescription medications can also vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. If you have a prescription, make sure to call around to your area pharmacies and ask them to run a price check of your medication against your insurance (you'll need to give them your insurance info, and they'll probably have to call you back with the answer). Also, check with your insurance to see if they have a Mail-Away program - typically you send in a written prescription and they will fill your RX for three months at a time at a discount.
Always Check EOBs and Medical Bills Before You Pay
After you see your doctor, you will get an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) in the mail or available to you online. Double check these to make sure your visit and anything that was done was billed appropriately. For example - if you had a problem visit and then a follow-up visit a week later, the follow-up visit should be billed as a lower-level (cheaper) visit as long as nothing new was addressed at the appointment. If you feel as though something was billed incorrectly, call your doctor's office and ask them to review the claim and resubmit if necessary.
Also, sometimes things that should be covered by insurance aren't, often due to human or computer error when the claim is processed - and you may get a bill from your doctor/hospital for it. If you ever have a question on why something wasn't covered or wasn't covered as much as you thought it should have been, it's definitely worth your time to call and question it.
Ask for a Prompt Payment Discount on Medical Bills
Once you get a bill from your doctor or hospital, call and ask if they have a prompt payment or cash discount if the bill is paid in full. Most places will offer you a discount (it varies, but we've seen discounts range from 5-35%) if you pay your bill in full within 30 days. If you can afford to pay the bill now and take advantage of the discount it's definitely worth it!
Payment Plan or Payment Forgiveness for Larger Bills
If you get a bill that you're not able to pay in full or if they do not offer a prompt payment discount, ask to be put on the minimum payment plan. As long as the doctor/hospital does not charge interest, you might as well take your time paying the bill and not put undue stress on yourself.
And as a last resort - if you have an extenuating circumstance and cannot pay your bill or make a payment plan work, many places will work with you to forgive some or all of your bill. Speak with their billing department for more information on this - but be prepared to provide all your personal financial information (assets, personal savings, records, etc) to prove financial/personal hardship.
Great Record Keeping
Finally, keep great records throughout the year - record all premiums you paid out-of-pocket, all copays, medical and dental bills, prescriptions, and all mileage to appointments. At the end of the year your accountant can help you wade through all the information and determine what you will be able to claim as a tax deduction - but the more information you have to give him, the more you will potentially be able to write off so keeping great records is key.
I hope these tips will help you and your family save money on your health insurance and medical bills. If you have any other tips to share, I would love to hear them!
Please note: These tips relate to what we've learned in our own experience, please consult your insurance broker, accountant, etc for the best information regarding your own situation. Use the information in this post at your own discretion and risk.