Shields Health Care Group Blog

Ten ways to make the most of your health care in 2013

Posted by Lisa Campisi

This information is from:
Castlight Health, Inc. San Francisco, CA (415) 829-1400, info@castlighthealth.c

Countdown to Better Health Care
The top ten ways that you can make the most of your health care in 2013.

Establish a relationship with a primary care doctor.Your first visit with a new doctor costs 30-50% more than a return visit. You can avoid multiple first-time visit charges by maintaining a relationship with one primary care doctor.

Take advantage of free preventive care. Under the new health care law, health plans are required to pay 100% for your annual physical and other age and gender appropriate preventive screenings (e.g. a screening mammogram).

Find doctors from small, independent practices. Prices for doctor visits can range widely, based on the negotiating power of the doctor’s medical group. Doctors in small, independent practices can provide similar or better care than large medical groups or hospitals for less money. 

Use specialists only when referred by your primary care doctor. Specialists may charge at least double the cost of a primary care office visit. Remember, a good primary care doctor is your first line of defense and will refer you to specialists only when needed.

Use national laboratory groups for blood tests. You can take your written lab order to any lab of your choice. National laboratory groups, such as Quest and LabCorp, have significantly lower prices – up to 90% lower than high-cost hospital lab facilities.

Avoid going to the hospital for x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging procedures. Independent, standalone facilities, such as imaging centers or sports medicine clinics, can provide identical imaging services for a fraction of the cost at a hospital.
Ask for copies of all lab and imaging results.

Keep a file of all your lab results so that you can take them to your doctor’s visits. These records can help your doctor provide more comprehensive care and you can avoid unnecessary duplicate tests.

Get your flu shots and other preventive shots. Know what vaccines are covered by your plan and vaccinate accordingly. Talk to your doctor about what safe and effective vaccines apply to you and your family.

Avoid the ER. An ER visit can easily cost you a thousand dollars more than a visit to a primary care doctor. For non-urgent care, seek out your primary care doctor, or consider your local urgent care clinic.

Identify your closest urgent care clinic. When you can’t get in to see your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic can be the most affordable way to get care. Urgent care and walk-in clinics provide a convenient, low-cost alternative for non-emergency care after hours and on weekends.

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