Concerned about health care costs?
These tips may help.
Try a health care cost comparison tool
You can, and should, shop for better deals on health care.
Many health insurance companies have websites and phone apps with search tools that help consumers find and sort through hundreds of health care providers and treatments. Don't pay more than you have to. Use these powerful tools to see which doctors are in your plan or insurance network, and compare the price of services from several providers and facilities to get a better deal.
Blue Cross NC uses the Smart Shopper app to help members find the best quality providers at the lowest possible prices. And members can search almost any area of North Carolina to find what they need. Do this before you schedule a procedure and you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.
Don't have access to this technology? Try calling several providers or hospitals in your area before you schedule an appointment. You'll find a wide range of prices and you can ask about prepay discounts or setting up a payment plan.
Ask about keeping your doctor for chronic care
There are times when you can keep your doctor even if they're not in your plan's network of doctors and specialists.
Insurance companies call this continuity of care.
That sounds complicated, but it really means you may be eligible to continue getting care from your current health provider, if you:
- Have an acute illness, that means a condition serious enough to require medical care or treatment to avoid the possibility of death or permanent harm
- Have a chronic illness, disease or condition that's life-threatening, degenerative or disabling, and requires medical care or treatment over a prolonged period of time
- Are terminally ill or have a medical prognosis with a life expectancy of six months or less
- Are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, or completing postpartum care
You have to ask your health insurance plan for this benefit.
Generally, you'll have 45 days after the date your plan tells you that your doctor is out-of-network to apply for Continuity of Care.
After you apply, your request will be reviewed by a medical professional. If your request is approved, you can continue to see your doctor or provider.
Get a better health care experience
Keep your own health care record
Keeping track of your own health lets you give doctors and health care providers the details they need to help improve the quality of your care. Your insurance company may call this a PHR or personal health record. Having one could help reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and procedures. Plus, you might even get faster, safer emergency care when first responders know more about your health.
Use your smartphone's Notes app, an electronic health record on your insurance website or a paper journal to take notes during doctor's appointments. Note any questions you have and write down the plan your doctor wants you to follow.
Start by recording these:
- Vaccination dates
- Ongoing treatments
If you have any medical records from your doctor, snap a photo and save it on your phone. It's best to keep everything in one place.
If you're the caretaker for family members, keep a separate journal for each person.
Try your doctor's portal
Some doctors use a MyChart portal, or website, to share notes on your appointments, tests, treatments and billing with their patients. If your provider has one, give it a try. Use the portal's private messaging and email to ask questions, get prescriptions, or let your provider know about issues you didn't mention during your visit.
This is important! All health plans are not the same! Your plan may be very different from what's shown here. If you're not clear about what's in your plan, or you need to buy a plan, be sure to read all the details and talk to an insurance professional to learn more.
Make a meds bag
If you're seeing more than one doctor, it's up to you to make sure each one know what medications you're taking.
Try this: put all your meds (even your vitamins and herbal supplements), in a large zip-top bag and take it with you.
It's a super easy way to make sure everyone sees what you're taking. It could help your doctor reduce or remove medications if anything has been duplicated.
Capture your family 411
Write a list of health issues (including allergies, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure), medications, and doctors' names and numbers for each person in your family.
Get the list laminated or tuck it in a plastic sleeve, then post it on your fridge, and put a copy in children's backpacks and in the family car. This list could help emergency responders know the best care to give your loved ones.
This is important! All health plans are not the same! Your plan may be very different from what we're showing here. Before you buy a plan, be sure to read all the details about your cost sharing responsibilities and talk to an insurance professional to learn more.