- Using health insurance may not always be the best financial choice.
- Paying with cash, or self-pay could save you money on some medical costs.
- Some other ways to save include getting regular preventative care and looking for low-cost clinics.
You may be able to pay a lower rate for medical care if you skip insurance and use cash.
In the United States, medical costs can be high. Even if you have insurance, essential healthcare needs can significantly alter your budget.
Most people assume that using their health insurance benefits is the best way to pay for medical care. But that may not always be the case. It may be worthwhile to skip insurance and see a doctor who accepts cash pay.
While many medical professionals accept health insurance, some accept cash pay, or self-pay, which may be cheaper than you assume. Even if you have insurance, you may be able to pay a cash pay rate for an exam or treatment instead of using your insurance coverage. Some medical practices offer their services at a reduced cash rate because they don't have to wait on the insurance company for payment and get paid faster.
If you're on a limited budget and need medical care, it's a good idea to look into what the service might cost when using health insurance and comparing the cash rate, if available. You may be able to keep more money in your bank account.
My experience with cash pay
While I now have vision insurance, that wasn't always the case. For several years, I went without coverage. Since I was a young child, I have worn glasses, so skipping out on vision exams wasn't something I could do if I wanted to see well.
I have a thorough medical history and have used the same eye doctor for many years. Once I no longer had vision coverage, I asked my doctor if she had a cash payment rate for exams. She did. I started paying the $100 cash rate whenever I needed to get an exam and a new prescription.
This was convenient for me because I didn't have to switch doctors, and I could continue to see one who already understood my medical needs. It was convenient for her because she got paid right on the spot and didn't have to deal with insurance.
While I could probably have gotten a slightly lower exam price at a low-cost vision exam store, I didn't want to risk having a bad experience with a new provider. To me, it was well worth the investment for my peace of mind.
I have also used cash pay for therapy. At one point, I had medical insurance that lacked good mental health coverage. I found a therapist who accepted cash payments at a rate that worked for my budget. I was paying less in cash than I would have paid to use my health insurance.
4 tips to pay less for medical care
Are you wondering how to find medical providers that accept cash pay? If you already have established medical providers you work with, ask them if they have a cash payment rate. You can also reach out to new providers in your area and see if they have self-pay rates.
Here are a few more resources that can help you save on healthcare costs:
- Don't ignore preventive care. You likely have some preventive care covered at no extra cost if you have insurance. This may include a free yearly exam. Ensure that you stay on top of preventive healthcare -- especially if it doesn't cost you extra. This could help you avoid more costly medical issues in the future.
- Check for low-cost clinics. Your community may have a low-cost health center or may occasionally run low-cost clinics. Keep an eye out for these programs or events, and don't be afraid to use money-saving resources.
- Visit dental schools for dental care. If you live in a city with a dental school, you may be able to get affordable dental cleanings, exams, and treatment at the school's dental clinic. Dental students need to learn and practice, and they work alongside their professors to help members of the community get the dental care they need.
- Use GoodRX to save money on prescriptions. If you're without insurance or have insurance with minimal prescription benefits, GoodRX could help you save money on the cost of your medications.
Do what you can to trim your healthcare costs
If medical costs are stressing you out, you're not alone. Americans of all ages struggle with the high cost of healthcare. If money is tight, utilize the resources available in your area so you don't have to skip out on essential medical care.
If you need treatment, check to see if a cash pay situation may work better for your financial situation. While paying cash for extensive medical needs may not make sense, it could be an excellent option for a quick exam or low-cost service.
For additional ways to save money in your daily life, check out our personal finance resources.
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