Easy remedies to lower medical bills

March 24, 2009 6:32:47 AM PDT
As the economy cuts into our budgets -- most of us are trying to cut corners where we can. But how do you budget for health care -- without risking your health? A few home remedies can keep medical bills from making your finances ill.SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

About 2 million Americans file for bankruptcy each year -- and it's not necessarily because they ran up their credit cards on luxuries. More than half say their health crippled their finances. But your bank account doesn't have to suffer just because your body does. You simply need the right medicine.

Most people when they get sick, they go to the emergency room. But what they don't realize is that that is the most expensive option; there are alternatives.

"There are things called urgent care centers that you can go to. And that will cost you about $150, versus the $1,000 for an emergency room. It's always best if you're in an HMO, to go to their clinic because you pay nothing. If you're not in an HMO, you can go to something called a convenience care clinic. That will run you about $35 before benefits," said Mellody Hobson, Ariel investments.

Another measure to keep your sickness from leaving a scar on your finances - examine the bill.

"Eighty percent of the time a bill is wrong from the hospital - 80 percent. That means only 20 percent of the time its right. And typically, the expense is 25 percent more than you would have paid, the errors. So, this is a big deal," said Hobson.

There's also software. Quicken, for example. You can buy it for less than $50 to help find problems in your bill. And another thing: we spend $200 billion a year on prescriptions, $650 a person, per year. So the next time your doctor says take two of these ask if there are any other options - a generic brand or perhaps another less expensive drug with the same medical benefits.

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