3. Do negotiate with your doctor, or the financial counselor at your doctor's office, about medical test costs. continued...
But don't skip the test without having that talk. "Discuss it with your doctor; don't make the decision yourself not to get it," Ballantyne says.
If the test is a must and you're going to have to pay for it out of pocket, Ballantyne suggests that you negotiate the test price and offer to pay the Medicare rate.
"The person without insurance or a person paying cash pays a price that no one else pays for it. The government doesn't pay it, the insurance companies don't pay it," Ballantyne says.
It's up to your doctor's office to decide whether they want to negotiate. "All they can do is say no, right? You lose nothing by asking," Ballantyne says.
4. Do maintain a medical "home."
That's your go-to place for your medical care and medical records.
A medical home isn't just convenient, says Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH, who is professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He says that by working with providers who know you, you may be able to avoid unnecessary medical tests, which means more savings.
Getting people into a medical home "even in the face of these economic times saves so much money and resources, and it's good medicine," Goldstein says.
5. Do find out about local and state health resources.
Look into community health centers (which typically charge fees on a sliding scale), free clinics, and local or state programs for children.
Goldstein says at one of the large community centers in his area, the minimum payment is $20, which he says is far less than the $110 at an urgent care center or $120 at most doctor's offices.
If you have children and meet certain income standards, check with your state or local health department about insurance, pediatrician Andrew Racine, MD, PhD, tells WebMD.
"The first thing that I would advise people to do is to investigate what they may be eligible for, in terms of coverage, that they may not know about. ...There are many, many families eligible to be on that program who are not enrolled," says Racine, who directs the general pediatrics division at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, N.Y