Being a Smarter Healthcare Consumer

By: David Murdock, The Prewitt Group Life, Health and Group Benefits Consultant

We are all aware of increasing healthcare costs and how they impact our lives. However, good health doesn’t just happen on its own. Consumers play a key role in healthcare, and by being smarter healthcare consumers, we can combat the rising healthcare costs. Practicing effective healthcare consumerism and taking an active role in your health is the best way to prevent sickness and disease, receive great care and reduce costs.

First, maintain a healthy lifestyle and take care of yourself. Being a better healthcare consumer starts with YOU, and establishing healthy habits starts with you. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and reducing stress are important aspects of your overall health and wellness in the short and long term. Stay up-to-date with yearly checkups and age-appropriate health screenings and immunizations. Plus, be prepared for minor illnesses and injuries with a stocked first-aid or emergency kit at home.

Secondly, understand what your insurance policy really covers. This way, you can make the most of your spending each year. Know your deductible amount, out-of-pocket maximum, copays for regular office, urgent care and ER visits and copay costs for generic, brand and specialty prescriptions.

Next, carefully select your healthcare providers. Having a primary care provider is vital to being a smarter healthcare consumer. Visiting the emergency room after work hours or relying on urgent care visits is NOT a good practice.  Instead, seek recommendations from family and friends, check your health plan to see which physicians are in-network, and know what you want and need from a primary care provider.

You can also seek ways to save money. There are many ways to save money when it comes to healthcare, such as using in-network doctors and facilities, asking for generic equivalents at the pharmacy and checking your medical bills and explanation of benefits for accuracy. When you need special testing and treatments, shop around for a cost-effective option.

healthcare apps

Lastly, with the technology available to us today, we can use resources with reliable information. Gather facts and advice based on sound medical research using reliable websites and mobile applications. For instance, if you have BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, you can use its app, Alabama Blue, to access your plan details, such as common copay amounts, HSA balances and claims, file a drug claim, locate in-network doctors and more on the go! Below is a list of other helpful healthcare apps that I rely on regularly:

  • GoodRX—Gathers current prices and discounts to help you find the lowest cost pharmacy for your prescriptions.
  • myRXplanner—Combines medication reminders and a scheduler application that is intended to assist users in being compliant with their prescribed or directed dosages for themselves, those they care for, and family members or loved ones.
  • EyeMed—Allows you to check your benefit details for eye exams, eyeglass frames, contacts and lenses on the go.
  • Alabama Blue Health Handbook—A comprehensive source for accredited reference information on diseases and medical conditions, medical procedures, and prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • My Cancer Coach—Provides information about personalized cancer treatments to help manage your cancer’s progression.
  • WebMD—Research conditions, check your symptoms, access drug and treatment information, get first aid essentials, check local health listings and find the latest health news on the go.
  • Best Doctors—As a Best Doctors member, you can have your medical diagnosis, treatment plan and any medical questions reviewed and answered by a carefully selected expert physician who specializes in your condition. You can also start and track the progress of your case!
  • TeleDoc—Connects you with a board-certified doctor 24/7/365 through the convenience of phone or video consults.

These are just a few of the countless resources available that can equip you to be a smarter healthcare consumer! Put these tips into practice today!