When I graduated college, there was a period of time that I was without health insurance. Two years, in fact.
During that time, I avoided the doctor at all costs and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have an accident that would require me to visit the hospital. I already had plenty of school loans, and the last thing I needed was a sky-high medical bill that would plunge me further into debt.
Of course, that was nearly 10 years ago (I need a defibrillator — stat! — after writing that), and times have changed. Technology has brought us lots of resources to help manage healthcare bills and expenses. Here are six that I think you should know about. (See also: How to Find Free (or Cheap) Health Resources)
Simplee is like Mint for your health costs. You can track health expenses (medical, dental, and pharmacy bills) based on you and/or your family ’s history. Simplee breaks it all down in an easy-to-understand dashboard. You can also shop for a health plan based on expenses and doctors.
Many major insurance carriers offer discount plans in addition to traditional dental insurance. You can search, compare, and select from more than 30 discount dental plans at DentalPlans. Just type in your ZIP code to find out what plans are available, how much they cost, and what dentists in your area participate.
Check out your prescriptions at DRX for lower-cost generic equivalents and therapeutic alternatives to save money on your meds. DRX will also show you how much you can save by ordering through the mail or pill splitting, the latter of which can save you a lot of money when you ask the doctor for double the dosage and cut the pills in half when you get home.
Members of EyeBenefits search an online database and receive significant discounts on vision care from providers in their area, including routine eye exams, contacts, lenses, and frames. There is a nominal fee associated with membership to EyeBenefits, but you may be able to take care of that with your Flex Spending Account (if you have one) to save you from having to pay for it out of pocket.
At eHealthInsurance you can compare the basics and find an affordable health policy available by type and ZIP code. The site will give you a list of plans by area, monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-pay and co-insurance amounts. You can also check to see if your current doctor is in-network.
Healthcare Blue Book
Find fair prices for surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, and medical tests, based on the average fee that providers in your area accept as payment from insurers. Healthcare Blue Book also provides money-saving tips for each procedure and a pricing agreement that makes it easier to negotiate with out-of-network providers.
Why should you think about looking into these pocket-protecting healthcare options? For starters, an estimated nine million adults have lost their health insurance in the past two years, according to a 2011 report by the Commonwealth Fund. In addition, an estimated 29 million people have used up all of their savings to pay medical bills. Our healthcare problem in the United States doesn ’t discriminate; lack of coverage can happen to anyone at any time. These resources will help you better manage the situation if you ’re ever in a financial bind or find yourself unemployed.
Do you have more healthcare resources that will save readers money? Let me know in the comments below.