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How to Protect Yourself From Medical Debt

Medical care is expensive, but you can take some measures to reduce your costs and avoid landing in serious debt. It's important to have the right insurance, know what it covers, and use it correctly. There are also other ways you can save money and prevent high medical debt from accumulating.

Stay Within Your Network

Prices for the same or similar services can vary widely from one provider to the next. If you have a health insurance plan, you will almost always get less expensive prices by staying within your network. A network is a group of health providers and facilities with which your insurance has a special agreement.

Since your insurance company has negotiated lower prices with in-network providers, you could end up saving significantly on common charges such as appointments, tests, procedures, and so on. You can find whether a specific provider is in-network by calling or checking your insurance company's website.

Use Insurance

You may have medical insurance, but it probably won't cover all your needs. If your employer offers other types of insurance, you can save by enrolling. You might be eligible for vision and dental insurance, as well as a flexible spending account for medical needs.

If these types of insurance are not available to you, you may be able to find discount plans. Some people choose to go with a dental discount plan instead of insurance. You may also be able to find discount plans for prescription drugs.

Shop Around

You might be surprised to learn that the same medical treatment at different places won't cost exactly the same. In fact, there may be hundreds of dollars of difference, even with insurance. Location is one reason. Where the cost of living is higher, so are medical bills.

Each hospital and clinic sets its own prices; there is no standardization or regulation of medical prices. If you know you're going to need a diagnostic test or medical procedure, it might be worth it to call around and ask. There are also websites and apps that compare prices.

You want the best healthcare you can get, but you also don't want to be saddled with medical debt that could take years to pay off. To prevent that from happening, it's a good idea to reduce your costs as much as you can through insurance, discount plans, and other cost-saving strategies.

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