Choose an appropriate facility
• Urgent care versus same-day appointment: Many assume that the fastest way to see a doctor is to head to an urgent-care center – an expensive visit. Many physicians now hold open space for same-day appointments, so save money by calling your doctor’s office before heading off to urgent care.
• Retail clinics can offer convenient, quick and affordable access to care for common medical conditions such as strep throat, ear infections and minor burns. They’re often located within department, drug or grocery stores. Most are open nights and weekends. Your health insurance might cover these visits, or offer them at discounted rates. Check your benefits documents or your health plan’s Web site for information.
• The emergency room (ER) serves an important role in providing immediate care to people with serious, often life-threatening problems. However, many visits to the ER are unnecessary, reducing the ER’s ability to help those with serious illnesses or injuries – and increasing costs for the rest of us. The national average cost for an ER visit is about $1,000. The average cost of an office visit is around $60.
Save on medications
• Generic drugs contain the identical active chemical ingredients as their brand-name counterparts but can be much less expensive. Ask your doctor if generics are available for any of your medications, or if drugs similar to yours can treat your condition. On average, you can save $200 per prescription per year by using generics.
• A formulary (or drug list) is a list of medications covered under your benefit plan. You usually pay less if your doctor prescribes a medication that’s on your health plan’s drug list. Before visiting your doctor, call your plan and ask if you pay less for medications on the list. If so, bring a copy of your plan’s drug list to your next doctor visit.
• Many medications once available only by prescription are now available right off the shelf. Not only are those over-the-counter medications convenient (since they don’t require a prescription from your doctor); they can save you money.
For more tips, visit www.cigna.com/learn4yourhealth. You’ll find a health care game, podcasts and interactive educational courses on topics such as how to reduce your out-of-pocket costs, new health care options that save money and improve your health, and how to make sense of your health coverage plan. Every time you review a course, you’ll have a chance to receive free coupons to entertainment, food and retail destinations. You may also access the program from the CIGNA Facebook page or YouTube.
– Courtesy of Family Features