Rising healthcare costs are putting a big burden on Americans. Though prescription drug prices are catching a lot of the blame for the increase in healthcare costs, prices for other healthcare services, such as lab work, are also to blame.
In this clip from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus: Healthcare podcast, analyst Kristine Harjes and contributor Todd Campbell discuss how Americans can stretch their healthcare dollars further.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Sept. 28, 2016.
Kristine Harjes: The next topic I thought we should bring up is preventative care. There are so many free screenings and vaccines and things that you can get through your health plan or work that are so important toward saving you money in the long run.
Todd Campbell: Have you gotten your flu shot yet, Kristine?
Harjes: I am scheduled to get one in a few weeks.
Campbell: Yeah. You can walk right in to your primary care, or a pharmacy, I go to Rite Aid, I sit there for five minutes, they come over and give me the shot, and it doesn't cost me a dime. For me, that keeps me healthy and I'm able to work more. The other part of this is that you don't want to miss days of work because you're not feeling well. So you have preventative care, you can go to your primary care physician and get a checkup every year, you have these different options. One thing I just did recently that I didn't even know about until I asked my doctor was that the local hospital in my area provides, one day per week, a very big discount on getting ultrasounds for your carotid arteries. I have carotid artery disease in my family history, and I was able to go in and get thousands of dollars' worth of testing for $75. So, it does help to talk very openly and honestly with your primary care physician and just ask different questions, "What kind of options are out there that could save me money?"
Harjes: Another thing to look into is your workplace wellness. Forty percent of large employers offer some sort of discount for participating in a workplace wellness program. And it makes sense from the employer's standpoint. Apparently every $1 of workplace wellness program cost saves approximately $3.27 on medical costs. So, it's quite likely that you can get money back through your employer, or you can find things -- I'm actually getting my flu shot through The Motley Fool's annual Wellness Fair. It's a good thing to look into that sort of benefit, and see what's available to you.
Campbell: Larger employers will oftentimes do these kinds of things. It's important to make sure you're checking your human resource newsletter to find out what kind of things are available to you and making the most of them. I also don't want to forget, if an emergency strikes that is not a life-threatening emergency, there are more and more options popping up in local communities rather than the emergency room. We have urgent-care centers all over our area, for example. My son actually just fell off his bike and needed some care, and we were able to go in, and in less than an hour and with a $60 co-pay, and make sure he didn't have any broken bones.
Harjes: And that would be way cheaper than the hospital, I'm assuming.
Harjes: Another thing along that vein is to make sure you know which hospitals are in network in case you need to go to a hospital. It's good to have done that research beforehand.
Campbell: It gets so confusing. We're going to talk about insurance, and we're moving that way already. There's so many different moving pieces. Having a little bit of education ahead of time can be very helpful, not only for those emergency situations, but even things like lab work, there could be very drastic difference is in terms of how much you're going to have to pay out of pocket depending on whether or not your insurer has a preferred lab that they'd rather you use, and you end up using something else.