Find how to reduce your medical bills.

Unfortunately, over 47 million Americans do not have health private insurance coverage or their benefits are limited. They are often faced with escalating health care costs and/or their insurance company passing more of the costs to them. Here are some great tips to reduce your medical bills if you are one of the uninsured or if you just need help with medical bills in general.

Sign up for a discount club

Health plans and private companies like Careington Health Systems ((800) 290-0523) and AmeriPlan (phone (800) 647-8421) offer discount cards that are available to almost everyone. They are available regardless of whether someone is insured or not. These can be used by patients to help them reduce their health insurance costs. Health care providers (including dentists, doctors, optical, chiropractic and much more) who are part of these plans agree to give members up to a 60 percent discount on their medical bills.

While you will pay a monthly membership fee that can be from $10-$30 and you will still need to pay some of your medical bills in cash at the time of your health care service, you will still experience major savings over time. One additional tip before applying is to be sure to review each plan's coverage in the area you live as some regions have fewer participating providers and doctors that participate than others.

Dental care

There are many schools and colleges of Dental Medicine that offer discounted or free dental care. While you may be seen by a student, hygienist or resident of the school, the care provided is always under the close supervision of licensed professionals. Find additional ways to get help with dental bills.

Health insurance for kids

Each and every state across the country offers a cheap or free health insurance program for children, infants,  and teenagers. While the programs do vary by which part of the country someone lives in, typically for little or no cost the state health insurance plan will pay for prescription medicines, routine doctor visits, hospitalization, dental bills, and more. Most of these plans are funded by the federal government CHIP program.





Even better, another tip for saving money is that your kids and teenagers are usually eligible for aid even if you're employed. Do note though that the exact terms of each state health insurance plan varies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a website where you can learn what plan your particular state offers to those who need help. Read more CHIP health care.

Eyeglass deals

It is a fact that the best deals and prices on eyeglasses can be found at Wal-Mart, BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco. The prices are very competitive at these retailers. You should always avoid the high-end eyeglass retail outlets and emporiums that are often located at your local mall.

As just one example, a pair of eyeglasses with what are called featherweight lenses, which may be priced at LensCrafters for $240, cost around $80 at Costco. Another example. Wal-Mart often offers special deals on two pairs of children's eyeglasses. At these locations you will very often find "no-name" versions of the exact same frames and glasses for a much cheaper price. In addition, there are also non-profits that offer free eyeglasses and exams.

Free and low-cost prescription medications

If you visit a hospital, clinic, or doctors office and need medication then you have many options to get cheap or free prescription medicines. The first tip is you should ask your nurse or doctor if they have any samples they can offer you. Or ask them for any other suggestions on how to save money.

The pharmaceutical companies give them plenty of free samples of drugs to pass out and often the clinic has enough medication for your entire course of treatment. This form of assistance is fairly common.

If they do not have any free drugs, try your local Wal-Mart and Target as they both offer over 400 prescription medications at just $4 each. Another tip is that the customer needs to ask for a generic medication to experience these savings.





In addition, many drug companies have prescription assistance programs. For example, Pfizer recently created a program that if you are newly unemployed and if you have lost your insurance coverage they will provide medications for free. This is offered for any drugs that they manufacture including Lipitor, Celebrex, Lyrca and others for up to one year timeframe. There are some restrictions to the assistance program, but it is a great resources for struggling families.

Tips for emergency hospital room visits

You should not use a hospital emergency room visit for routine or standard medical care. They should only be used when you have a life threatening illness or medical condition. Even if it is after hours, another tip is to see if your general doctor has an after hours service that may provide basic advice on the condition being experienced.

You can rest a little easier knowing that both doctors and hospitals are required to provide some type of care to you to the extent that you're stabilized regardless of your financial situation or income. So regardless of your income or insurance status an emergency room will usually not be able to turn you away. Many states require this by law. Find additional ways to get hospital bill assistance.

Hearing aid assistance

For those that have health insurance, hearing aids are rarely covered by your plans and they can be surprisingly costly. While the prices will vary, they can cost in excess of $4,000 a pair. If need a hearing aid you can try a lower priced, often high quality over-the-counter model from Nexear and other manufacturers.

The prices for these will start at around $299 each and they will usually come with a thirty day risk free trial. If you're unsatisfied with these types of hearing aids after 30 days you can then consider alternatives, such as a Costco house brand unit. These are made by the same big name manufacturers but sold for a fraction of their prices as they are sold under generic brand names. There are also a number of discounts available from non-profits, and read more information on how to find free hearing aids.

Negotiate your hospital and medical bills

According to Consumer Reports as well as a Wall Street Journal survey from last year, over 70% of respondents who attempted to negotiate a hospital or medical bill with a provider for lower prices were successful. Almost 65% of people were successful in negotiating with their dentist for a lower dentist bill and over 61% were successful with their doctor. Discounts negotiated will range from 20 - 50% and they are often dependent on your personal financial circumstances. But it always pays to ask for help and their is no downside to ask the question. Find other negotiating tips.




Also, if you pay in cash, another tip is that you can usually get a discount on the services provided. While you're asking for a lower bill from your provider, remember to consider how you will pay. If you do happen to be lucky enough to be able to a pay a bill (or even a portion of it) in cash, that will often warrant you a bigger discount if the patient asks.

Doctors and hospitals will usually provide this discount as they get the funds from the patient in less time and the hospital will not need to wait on an insurer or the government to pay them. If you can't pay a medical or hospital bill in cash, hospitals and medical providers are frequently willing to consider offering payment terms to provide you with some form of assistance.

By Jon McNamara

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