A Healthier Approach to Medical Costs

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Nobody enjoys the hassle of medical insurance and its paperwork, claims, and denials, yet it's one of those things that one appreciates most when it isn't there. There are ways to save money on those parts of the claims that aren't paid, however. Follow these tips and make the cost of healthcare less stressful. After all, stress isn't good for your health either.



Have work pre-approved. Many insurance companies are vague in what procedures they approve and what procedures they deny. When dealing with optional services like crowns for root canals versus partial caps, have the procedure pre-approved. Medical professionals can provide the code for the service they are planning to perform.

When in Doubt, Call

Upon admittance to the hospital, have someone call your insurance to check approval. If it was a scheduled visit, your insurance company most likely pre-approved the stay, stating how long your recuperation would last. However, if it's an emergency avoid the hassle of denials and appeals by calling insurance immediately and asking questions. For instance: If a spouse is admitted to the ER for chest pain but the tests are negative for a heart attack, doctors may recommend procedures such as dopplers and scans.


Ask insurance how long of a hospital stay will be covered for such procedures. You may be surprised. Often test times can be altered by the hospital staff if they know that insurance stops picking up the tab after day two.

Meds by Mail

Order regular medications by mail. Most insurances offer this option. While acquiring the prescription for three months worth of medication and filling out the forms to start the procedure is tedious, in the end it pays. Some companies actually offer the incentive to use this service by providing the medications free of charge! Others offer discounts in the form of lower co-pays. Usually three months' worth of meds by mail costs the same as a two months' supply at the pharmacy.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Set up a flexible spending account. Each year tally the medical bills that you've accumulated and make assumptions about which bills will be incurred next year as well. Yearly checkups and dental exams occur on a regular basis as do monthly prescription refills. Then, by registering for this account the total amount for the year is broken into pay cycles and deducted from each check.


When money is spent on medical bills, a claim is filed to the FSA and a check is returned to you. What's happening is the money taken out of each check is being returned to you before taxes. Not only does this make a great tax break, but it also feels like you've earned a reward when the reimbursement check arrives.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at

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May 18, 20060 found this helpful

Please be careful with the meds by mail....Though you get a lot at one time, and may save a month's copay, if your life depends on the meds, and it is susceptible to abuse (controlled substance) you may be safer sticking to a local pharmacy, just call and receive a price quote! If you need to get emergency prescriptions, you can usually get those locally, but it is nice to have a pharmacist to catch bad mixes.


I do this with my son's anti-seizure, which is only two dollars more than paying a monthly copay, but the security is a bigger reward than one month free!

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Budget & Finance HealthcareMay 17, 2006
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