Healthcare is a top personal and financial priority for most of us. In fact, health is one area where we should not compromise on spending, as good health is the overriding factor of life. Everything else is secondary. You can earn better, provide for your family better, be a better citizen, contribute to charitable causes, and so forth, only if your own health, and that of your family, is reasonably good.
Unfortunately, the skyrocketing cost of healthcare services, medical insurance premiums, and prescription drugs can be a real challenge. Medical care is not cheap anymore. One visit to a doctor can set you back by a good sum of money. The hospital fee alone is scary. Add to that the cost of medicines and follow-up visits, and you are in for a bit of a shock.
So, what can you do to cut down your medical expenses in the coming year? The good news is that there are some steps you can take to keep the costs down, and it is not too difficult to take those steps. Here is a list of things you can do to cut healthcare-related expenses:
- Increase your awareness level
Most Indians have a budget to factor in medical expenses and health emergencies, such as surgery or a hospitalization. But we often overlook smaller healthcare-related costs. We do not realize that we spend a considerable amount of money every month on over-the-counter medicines, particularly for chronic ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies, and so forth. A recent study by the National Sample Survey Office says that Indians spend almost 70% of their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses on medicines alone. Being aware of our monthly medicinal requirement, and a clear idea of how much we spend on it is the first step in planning how to cut the overall expenses.
- Switch to generic prescription drugs whenever possible
Patented and branded medicines are costlier, but not necessarily more effective, than generic drugs. Generic drugs have much the same efficacy but cost much less. And in India, it is nearly always possible to find a generic substitute. India is one of the largest producers of generic drugs, making up almost 75% of the total pharmaceuticals market. If you take the trouble to look for a generic substitute or an alternative brand, it is quite possible to secure a saving of 50% to 70% on medicines. Do not be embarrassed about asking your doctor to prescribe a generic alternative. If the physician writes “allow generic substitution” on all prescriptions, the chemist will be able to provide you cheaper medicines nine times out of ten.
Moreover, cheaper substitutes manufactured by reputable companies are perfectly acceptable and will be as effective as their more expensive counterparts. So, get into the habit of searching online on e-pharmacy portals for cheaper alternatives. And familiarize yourself with active ingredients in medicines, so you will know how to hunt for substitutes. Learn to search for drugs containing salts that are from the same pharmacological class.
- Shop online for medicines
As with other products, it is cheaper to buy for meds online. Several e-pharmacies are operating in India, and all of them provide better deals than the neighborhood chemists. Online pharmacies do not have to pay overhead costs and other retail costs, so they can offer you the same medicines at a lower cost. Some online portals, such as Netmeds, 1mg, and Medplusmart, offer discounts of up to 30%. Others offer cash back and discounts for first-time shoppers, and other benefits for repeat customers through flexi-rewards and loyalty programs.
If you are a regular medicine buyer, or if you need to buy in bulk, you can save big by purchasing online. People with chronic ailments particularly will benefit from the e-commerce. Besides, if you keep an eye for special discounts, such as coupons offered by online pharmacists, you can lower the total medical cost by a considerable amount.
- Improve your overall health
This is a sure-fire way to reduce medical expenses. Take your health seriously from an early age, take health insurance early in life, improve your lifestyle, eat healthy, detox and de-stress, do not overwork yourself, take things easy, and you will be surprised at the results. If you have good health, you do not need too many medicines. If you don’t need medication, you will automatically save on your overall medical expenses.
In the end, take the time to familiarize yourself with your health insurance benefits, ask for discounted services and medicines, review your bills and monitor the healthcare process carefully.