The decisions you make about your healthcare add up to either big savings or big spending.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, empower yourself by understanding your healthcare plan’s cost-saving options.
To ensure you’re getting the most value for your healthcare dollar, use these helpful tips:
- Stay In-Network. In-network care is typically less expensive than out-of-network care. Out-of-network provider costs may include a higher deductible, coinsurance and/or copayment. This means ultimately you’ll pay a larger percentage of the total cost of your care.
- Use a Walk-In Clinic. Walk-in clinics offer convenient hours and are often less expensive than a doctor’s office visit for common and minor health concerns, such as strep throat and immunizations. Located in pharmacies and other retail locations, clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners or physician assistants for convenient access and may have shorter wait times.
- Urgent Care Center. Urgent or immediate care centers can save you hundreds of dollars versus using the emergency room. No appointments are needed, and they generally offer shorter wait times, extended hours and care from a doctor or nurse.
- Go Generic. Nearly 3.8 billion of the total 4.3 billion prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. in 2014 were filled using generic drugs. Generic prescriptions drugs, when available, are safe and effective, FDA-approved, and contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name versions. They also cost much less and work just the same as their brand name counterpart.
- Shop Around. Many health services – from MRIs, blood tests and knee replacements – can be comparison shopped to find the lowest cost provider. For example, a colonoscopy might cost less than $1,000 at one facility and $4,000 at a neighboring facility. To compare prices, call the billing department of each facility and tell them you want a price for not just the procedure, but for all associated costs as well. Or check out cost-comparison websites that provide a fair price range to aim for when negotiating costs for healthcare services and procedures.
- Double-Check Your Medical Bills. Mistakes happen often. Make sure your bill accurately represents you and your visit. Whether it’s the wrong code, typos, a denied claim, duplicate charges or incorrect dates, the best way to catch mistakes is to carefully check your billing statement, request an itemized bill if one was not provided, and compare the bill to your EOB.
- Get Preventive Care. Staying up-to-date on immunizations, check-ups, screenings and other preventive care measures can help detect or prevent serious problems, and are often covered at 100% when received in-network. Preventive care not only saves lives, it can save you money.
- Use Telemedicine. Telemedicine services, such as Teladoc® offer convenient and low-cost care for common health concerns over the telephone or online. According to a HealthMine survey, 93% of people who have used telemedicine say it has lowered their healthcare costs. Another study found the average estimated cost of a telemedicine visit saves consumers $100 or more compared to in-person care.
Among many benefits, kicking a smoking habit can improve your health and help boost your mood.
Give the following tips a try to help you through those challenging days ahead.**
- Sip cold water and eat small, healthy meals
- Brush your teeth often
- Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol
- Spend time in smoke-free zones
- Remember your reasons for quitting
- Be active every day and keep a packed calendar to stay busy
- Chew gum, hard candy or a healthy snack instead
- Secure a lifeline for support
- Avoid troublemakers to stay on track
- Be patient and stay positive
For a limited time, Starmark® is pleased to offer the CVS Minute Clinic® Start to Stop® smoking cessation program to covered employees* at no additional cost. The Start to Stop program is available to the first 250 covered employees. Fill out the form to receive your Initial Visit voucher. For program details and instructions, click here.
*The CVS Minute Clinic Start to Stop Program is available to covered employees only, not dependents.
- Pack your medications and bring a little extra should your travel plans change.
- Prevent mosquito and other bug bites by applying sunscreen first and then bug repellant with two percent or more DEET protection.
- To help prevent summer colds, wash your hands in warm water frequently and use hand sanitizer.
Source: Teladoc, “Three easy ways to stay healthy on vacation”
Going on vacation is fun. Getting sick on vacation isn’t.
Remember, if you or a covered family member gets sick on vacation, use Teladoc®* to connect with a licensed doctor who can diagnose and treat many common non-emergency conditions, including:
- Ear infections
- Upper respiratory infections
- Cold symptoms
- Skin issues
- And more
Take Teladoc with you this summer. Before going on vacation, go to www.teladoc.com to register your Teladoc account. Once registered, you can download the award-winning mobile app for added convenience the next time you need to connect with a doctor.
*Teladoc is available for new business and new plan years with effective dates of 7/1/15, and later. Availability and services may vary by state. Teladoc® is not an affiliate of Trustmark Life Insurance Company or Starmark®. The consult fee is subject to change during the plan year.
Laundry is no one’s favorite chore, but there’s no reason to add injury to insult by polluting in the process. There are environmental considerations on wash day, including the energy used to wash, dry and iron clothes, and the products used to make clothes come out whiter and brighter. Here are some tips to consider:
Warm up to cooler water. Using hot water for both washing and rinsing uses three and a half times more energy than washing in warm water and rinsing in cold.
Get efficient. The newest, most efficient washers use four times less energy than the least efficient machines, and save up to $70 a year in energy costs.
Don’t overheat. Lowering your water heater’s temperature to 120 will suffice for most household needs and cut energy costs.
Get loaded. It takes less energy to do one big load than two smaller ones. But don’t overload the machine or nothing will get clean.
Go with the flow. Check your dryer’s outside vent. Make sure it is clean and closes properly, or it could allow cold air into your house.
Hang it up. Reduce the need for ironing by taking clothes out of the dryer slightly damp and hanging them up. That can save energy, including yours.
Chronic pain or pain that lasts longer than six months, affects more than 100 million Americans and can range from excruciating, episodic or continuous to totally incapacitating.1 Individuals with chronic pain may also experience anxiety, stress, depression, anger and fatigue, which all interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body’s production of natural painkillers.
If you are a sufferer of chronic pain, you can take control of your healthcare by getting a second opinion with Grand Rounds®. Grand Rounds is the newest service included at no additional cost to covered members with a Starmark® self-funded major medical plan design beginning April 1, 2016. The service provides medical opinions to covered members from expert physicians specializing in the area of need, without any required travel.
The American Chronic Pain Association offers the following tips to discuss with a physician2:
- Write down all of your symptoms.
- Share pain management techniques that have worked or not worked for you.
- Create a list of all of your medications, over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.
By using Grand Rounds second-opinion service, you can help verify an effective treatment course, which may result in better outcomes and cost savings.
Grand Rounds is not an affiliate of Starmark® or Trustmark Life Insurance Company.
Did you know the U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world, at 1,643 pounds per person annually? Here are some tips for recycling.
- Recycle paper with staples, clips or spirals. Don’t include paper with food stains because it can contaminate the load.
- Remove bottle caps, return plastic bags to stores or find a local drop off location at plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Glass and Metal
- Rinse out bottles, jars and cans. Throw away or recycle caps. Include washed pie tins and foil, metal bottle caps, wire coat hangers and scrap metal. Don’t worry about removing labels.
- Try selling or giving furniture away on Craigslist, thrift stores or donation centers. Or try freecycle.org. Don’t make the garbage dump your first stop.