Health care costs have been on the rise over the past few years, with health spending for Americans costing more than $8,680 per person, according to 2011 data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.1Making matters worse, about 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition, such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes, driving up the need for prescriptions and treatments that can add up over time.2
However, saving money on your medicine and your overall wellness doesn’t have to be a pain-staking endeavor. Here are some tips you can use to help lower your health care costs while still maintaining your health.
Ask your physician if there is a generic version of your medication, said Dr. Richard Smith, Medical Director of Senior Products for Humana’s Intermountain Region. Generics, which are typically 30-80 percent less expensive than brand name drugs, are equivalent in dosage, form, safety and strength.3, 4 Each year, generic alternatives for top-selling brand name drugs go off patent, helping you save money on common medications, including blood thinners and cholesterol fighters.
Another way to cut costs is to see if your health plan’s pharmacy benefit manager offers a mail-order pharmacy service. An alternative to traditional community pharmacies, mail-order prescription delivery provides 30, 60 and 90-day supplies of your medications shipped directly to your home, usually with significant savings off the regular retail price.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates health care costs for chronic disease treatment account for more than 75 percent of national health expenditures.5
“Be proactive and get regular checkups and screenings from your physician,” Dr. Smith said. “These visits are usually covered by most health insurance plans, which can help monitor for and prevent chronic conditions before they become too serious and require treatment.”
In fact, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has made preventive screenings more available and more affordable than before. Under the act, Medicare and new private-insurance policies are required to either completely or significantly cover the cost of 45 medical tests and services currently shown to be most effective in early disease detection and prevention, such as mammograms, diabetes, colon cancer, prostate cancer and cardiovascular issues. For a complete list covered by Medicare, visithttp://www.medicare.gov/coverage/preventive-and-screening-services.html.
Health care plans often provide a number of health and wellness discounts – from deals on nutritional supplements to discounts on vision care – to help members keep their costs down. For instance, health benefits company Humana Inc. offers its members various deals through its online Savings Center, including discounts for everything from colds to heartburn medications.
“The key to saving on health care costs and using these tips effectively is planning,” Dr. Smith said. “It might take a little bit of scheduling to order your medications ahead of time or make an appointment for a screening; however, the payoff, in terms of the impact on both your health and wallet, is worth it.”
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Humana. For more information on Humana’s senior products in Utah call 1-800-884-8328.