While the total cost of a doctor’s visit varies greatly depending on the reason for being seen, the physician’s specialty and many other factors, a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research found that the average price for a new, uninsured patient was $160. If you’re uninsured, a doctor’s visit can obviously be costly, but even if you have insurance, co-pays and other fees can really add up. Fortunately, there are ways to save on those visits.
Offer to Pay Cash
If you don’t have medical insurance, when booking an appointment ask if there are discounts for paying cash up front. Many physicians will offer a discount as they’ll save time and money by not having to process insurance paperwork in addition to getting instant cash rather than having to wait 30 or 60 days for insurance payments to come through.
See an In-Network Provider
If you have insurance, you’ll be able to save significantly by going to an in-network healthcare provider. If your doctor is already a provider in the network, make sure he or she refers you to specialists who are as well. In most offices, there is at least one staff member dedicated to determining your medical eligibility, making sure that you’ll be covered so that you’ll know in advance what your costs will be, including the amount of the co-pay, if any.
Take Care of Multiple Problems in One Visit
One longer visit is almost always going to be less expensive than two short visits and you’ll only have to pay one co-pay. If you don’t have insurance at all, the total is going to be cheaper either way. While you can’t just surprise your doctor when you go in, if you call in advance and explain what you’d like beforehand, most are willing look at more than one issue by scheduling sufficient time to address each of your concerns adequately. For example, if it’s time for your annual breast exam or pap smear, you may be able to have that possible ear infection addressed too.
Limit Specialist Visits
For common illnesses, there’s usually no reason to pay extra for a specialist, who will likely cost you quite a bit more. Family physicians or primary care doctors aren’t just for colds and sore throats, they’ve been trailed to handle some 95% of conditions encountered in their daily practices, from asthma and acne to anxiety. Specialists typically search for a definite diagnosis, while family practice doctors focus on relieving symptoms, reserving expensive testing for problems that are easily resolved.