Frugal Friday – Doctor Visits

Well, after quite a few nice comments for one of my previous Frugal Friday posts, discussing saving on medicine, I thought it would be a good idea to consider further health savings, by cutting down the expense of your next doctor’s bill.  Don’t worry, doctors, we’re not trying to put you out in the cold, but let’s be completely honest, it’s getting a bit expensive to stay healthy.

How can you keep your doctor’s visits from costing you an arm and a leg?  (Although, if you do have to pay in body parts, you will be in the right place to have them taken, I suppose…)  Well, as with most areas where you want to save, there are several methods.  You could try:

Ways to Save On Doctor Visits

1. Going Less Often: Short, simple, and to the point.  If you don’t use their services as often, you won’t spend as much money on your doctor visits.  This is probably more pertinent to those of you who tend to go whenever anything is wrong with you.  If you are young, fairly, healthy, and the affliction you are concerned with is fairly minor (like a cold or a cough, as opposed to something more serious like a broken arm or ruptured spleen), you might be best served by simply drinking lots of fluids, taking plenty of rest, and simply waiting it out.  (Note, though, that if your boss requires a doctor’s note for absences from work to be considered sick days, that will probably trump any desire you’d have to avoid paying for a visit to the doctor.)  Don’t think this is a free pass to never see the doctor, though, (and yes, I’m looking at you, guys) because you should…

2. Get Regular Check Ups: ‘Wait’, you say, ‘How does seeing the doctor MORE often cost me LESS money?’  Well, you have to take a long term view of it.  While it is true that you will be spending money with each check up, costing you in the short term, you’ll also be in a position to catch any major diseases or problems with your body while they are still relatively easy (and cheap) to fix.  The cost differential between catching a disease early and letting it grow into a major problem is phenomenal.

Although, if the person offering you a check up is wearing this, you should be very, VERY suspicious

3. Ask for a Discount: As with so many places, asking for a discount at the doctor’s office (particularly if you are uninsured, although those with insurance can ask as well) can potentially net you substantial savings.  The worst case scenario is simply that the nurse or orderly you ask will say ‘No’; the best case scenario is a substantial deduction on how much you end up owing for your treatment.  Sort of a no-brainer decision in my book.

4. Get Vaccinated: If you are a member of a high risk group for getting a particular disease, know someone that is, will be traveling somewhere with a risk of such a disease, or will otherwise be at greater risk in the future, you should definitely be sure to keep up to date with your vaccinations.  Much as with check ups, vaccinations will cost you a bit more up front, but by preventing the disease in question, you can avoid losing more money through treatments and time as a result of time taken off.  And while we’re talking about prevention…

5. Keep Yourself Fit: If you are out of shape, you’re at a greater risk for diseases and will face greater medical costs.  Relatively minor shifts in your eating, exercising, and living habits could be enough to get you in good, or at least better, shape and help you to feel better in the process.  It will take some effort and some commitment, this is true, but the end result will be healthier, happier, and richer you.

6. Check Your Medical Bills Thoroughly: This is, by far, the suggestion I’ve seen recommended the most to cut the cost of your doctor visits.  Whether by design (not trying to accuse anyone, but it’s not impossible, sad to say), as a result of stress and harried conditions, or just carelessness, there seems to quite a lot of medical over billing, which can end up costing you thousands.  Make sure to double- and triple-check your medical bills, and you have the potential to save a great deal of money over your lifetime.

7. Follow the Instructions You are Given: If there is something wrong with you (and sometimes even if there isn’t), your doctor will give you instructions on what to do to cure your disease, recover from injury, or generally get yourself back to full health.  LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR.  If you follow the directions you are given to the letter, you will be in much healthier shape and are less likely to have the same problem in the future.

(Of particular concern to me are the people who don’t take ALL the anti-bacterial medication they are prescribed.  By doing so, they’re allowing some of the bacteria to survive and possibly even thrive, usually the strongest ones.  This not only opens them up to becoming infected again, but it’s also how drug-resistant strains of bacteria develop.  JUST DON”T DO IT!  Please.)

There you go, seven ways to keep your medical bills to a minimum.  Now go, be healthy and happy, and save money in the process!

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