Being uninsured sucks. I still make an effort to stay on top of my medical care. I go to the dermatologist once a year, the dentist twice a year and I also go for my annual check up at my primary care doctor. All of this, for the most part, is paid out of pocket. Here’s how I do it.
- In my monthly budget, I have $100 budgeted for “medical and dental costs”. Some months it’s a little more and some months a little less.
- Although I don’t carry medical insurance, I do have the Ameriplan dental plan. It is not insurance but it is a discount plan that my dentist accepts. It costs $20 a month for my entire family and saves me about $300 a year. After the $240 annual cost, I come out about $60 or more ahead each year. This plan saves me about $50 per cleaning and checkup and then another $40 or so per procedure (fillings, emergency care, sealants, etc)
- My dermatologist is really expensive but he is THE BEST at what he does. When I go in for my skin checks and all the other stuff he does, it is usually more than I expect. I pay $100 that day (from the budget) and then once I get the bill showing the balance due, I IMMEDIATELY call the billing office and set up a payment plan to pay off the balance. In addition, they do give me a “cash/self pay discount” which most doctors will do if you just ask (it is usually at least 10%)
- With my primary care doctor, I pay an $80 “deposit” when I go in and then they bill me for the balance. After I had my last checkup, I got the balance for the remainder of the bill and it seemed a little high. After 3 phone calls (totaling about 1 hours worth of my time), they figured out that I had been billed on the wrong code and my bill for $175 was really supposed to be for $102 once it was coded correctly and my “cash discount” was applied. I saved $73 by spending one hour of my time making phone calls. ALWAYS call and ask if you think something is wrong. It doesn’t cost anything to ask! You should know what you are paying for!
- Be honest with your providers. I make it very clear that I am a self-pay patient. All of my doctors have been very helpful in finding prescriptions that are on the free prescription list at Publix or on the $4 prescription list at Walmart. One time I needed a prescription that was $175! There was no other option available but my doctor checked their room of samples and found a full sized tube of the prescription for me and gave it to me for free ! As an added bonus, the package had an online survey for me to take and that got me a $25 Amazon gift card for taking the survey! Don’t forget to ask about “over the counter” medications as well. They often have lots of samples to give away so don’t be shy!
- Ask your doctor about free clinics. The primary care doctor group that I see also runs an after hours free clinic for patients without insurance. While I go to their regular office for my checkups, all of my other visits can be done at the after hours clinic for free and they also have access to my medical records because it is run by the same group of doctors. Going to this after hours clinic can also get me reduced fees on any necessary labwork that I need done.
Hopefully this post gives you a few new ideas on how to save some money on medical care. Your health is important and you need to take care of yourself, even if you don’t have insurance.