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Living on a Budget
by Jeanne Lee, AARP The Magazine, September/October 2010 issue
Reap Drugstore Rebates
Sign up for rewards programs such as CVS’s ExtraCare and
Walgreens’s Register Rewards. You’ll get coupons printed on your register receipts for discounts on your future purchases.
Ask your doctor about cheaper pills
Print out your insurer’s list of approved drugs from its website and bring the list to your next doctor’s appointment. That way, your doctor can see if one drug is more economical for you than a comparable one, perhaps because of a less expensive co-pay.
Negotiate with your pharmacist and physician
Many pharmacies match competitors’ lower prices, though you may need to request it. (The websites of some state health departments publish drug prices of local pharmacies, making it easy to compare.) Certain pharmacies, such as those in the Supervalu network, including Osco and Sav-On, offer price matching as a routine policy. Drugstore.com will match prices on a 90-day supply.
If you recently lost your health insurance, ask your doctor to cut you a break. Say, “I now have to pay for my own care, so would you accept the same amount you received from my insurance in the past?” Your former insurer may have paid 60 percent of the list price for an office visit.
Price-shop a procedure
Before undergoing an elective medical procedure, such as LASIK eye surgery or dental veneers, find out how much this costs. Knowing the range can help you choose between comparable care providers. Healthcarebluebook.com lists what it considers to be a fair price, based on how much providers receive from insurers. For example, if you’re in need of knee arthroscopy in Denver, Healthcare Blue Book says a fair price for the procedure at a hospital would be $6,980 (that includes the physician’s fee and anesthesia). Newchoicehealth.com, a similar site, shows what health care providers actually charge consumers, on average, based on its surveys. Its figure for knee arthroscopy at a Denver hospital: $11,500.
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