How to Reduce Your Health Budget
Increasing prices for complementary health care, lower reimbursements, lack of information, Canadian people are finding it increasingly difficult to get treatment at a lower cost. Health spending today represents more than 15% of the household budget without taking into account hospital costs. In 2019, Canadian Health&Care Mall, an all-encompassing patient care platform, reported the average health expenditure was $659 per household. According to the same study, almost 55% of those surveyed decided to postpone or give up certain health care because of its cost. The Canadians are increasingly renouncing care and are more systematically looking for alternative solutions, in Canada and abroad, to optimize their budget and reduce their expenses. Everyone is trying to save money, and the means to do so are very real. Do you want to follow the trend, too? Follow our advice and tips.
Get to Know the Health System
1) Estimate your needs and expenses
In terms of guarantees and refunds – what do you need? First, analyze your daily needs (consultations, drugs, specialists, etc.). To help you define your consumption, have all your medical records for two years (prescriptions, invoices, stops, various reimbursements on your bank account). Estimate the annual amount of your expenses. Second, read your insurance contract entirely. Find the guarantees and reimbursement limits. Then identify what is useful and what is superfluous.
2) Take advantage of free services
As social security insures over the age of 16, you have the right every 5 years to a full and free assessment, therefore covered without any advance costs. Lasting 2 and a half hours, including a blood test, a urinalysis, a check of teeth, eye and hearing tests as well as a clinical examination, this assessment will allow you to detect the first signs of any illness or concern. The results are sent directly to you and to your doctor’s office.
3) Declare your attending physician
Declaring a treating doctor to health insurance allows you to benefit from the maximum reimbursement provided by social security on your consultations. In fact, a consultation with the attending physician that you have declared will be reimbursed to you on a 65% basis, while if you consult another doctor, you will only be reimbursed at 35%. If you have not already done it, declare a doctor as soon as possible. It’s very simple: the doctor you choose can do it directly online. If necessary, download a declaration form here which you will have your doctor fill out.
4) Respect the course of care
You have just completed the step of respecting the coordinated care pathway: the declaration of an attending physician. Now go to your doctor before consulting specialist doctors (excluding gynecologists, ophthalmologists, as well as psychiatrists in some cases). This will again allow you to benefit from the maximum reimbursement rate on specialist consultations. Otherwise, your reimbursement will again be capped at 35% of the agreement rate instead of 75%.
5) Next, in terms of optical and dental work: what do you need?
These positions are generally the most expensive but also the most poorly reimbursed by Medicare. The reimbursements desired in these areas are decisive in the price of your mutual health insurance, and it is therefore imperative to know your needs on this subject (glasses, dental prostheses, etc.). Once your expenses and needs have been identified, you can then adjust your contract with them. Compare online the available offers corresponding to this new profile to find the optimal coverage and the best quality / price ratio and you will save 35% on average on the amount of the insurance premium for the same guarantees. For your glasses, you will save on average 20% of costs by calling on the network partner of your mutual insurance company, and 60% on their price by buying them on the Internet. The same for your dental prostheses: using the network of professional partners of your complementary will save on average 25%.
Get Care for Cheaper
6) Take part in the national screening days
Many screening operations are organized throughout the year: cancers, diabetes, heart problems, osteoporosis. This is a perfect opportunity to benefit from a free health check and to detect, in some cases, a disease with an early stage.
7) Consult in university centers
If you need to have expensive dental care (fitting prostheses or implants for example), consider university centers. You will be able to benefit from treatments at a lower cost, provided by experienced students under the supervision of a professor. The cost is on average 30 to 55% lower than with a regular dentist.
Another option is to look for items that have an initially lower cost. According to our adviser Mylegacypharmacy.com, this can be done through government or manufacturer assistance programs, low-cost outlets, coupons collected from the Web.
8) Prefer generic drugs
Generic drugs are on average 40% cheaper than brand name drugs. In addition, the Medicare sometimes reimburses only the generic version of certain drugs: ask your doctor to prescribe the reimbursed version. You can also specify this at your pharmacist, who can issue you the generic instead of the original medicine.
9) Buy drugs in large packages
The price ‘per unit’ of a drug (i.e. the price of a tablet for example) decreases if you buy it in large packaging: indeed, a box of 20 tablets is for example proportionally less expensive than a box of 10 tablets. So, buy the drugs you use commonly (tablets for headache, sore throat, anti-cold or specific prescription treatment taken over a long period) in large packages.
10) Compare the prices of medicines with each other and from one pharmacy to another
At a time when the drugs deemed overly expensive, a consumer must become a real player in the choice of his health benefits and in particular in the purchase of his medication.
Within the framework of a prescription: If your doctor prescribes medicines for you, do not hesitate to ask him if they are covered by Medicare, in which case ask for his generic if there is one.
If you wish to buy your own medicines to treat mild symptoms (self-medication), be aware that two types of self-service medicines are sold at different prices:
The first concerns the drugs the prices of which are not framed. You can thus find differences in prices ranging from simple to triple depending on pharmacies and regions of Canada. Pharmacies have an obligation to clearly display the price of drugs on labels. In this case, do not hesitate to compare the prices from one pharmacy to another.
The second concerns drugs with an equivalent reimbursed by Medicare, these are generic drugs. Their prices are set by government and are often less expensive than their self-service equivalents. Their VAT is more advantageous. As a result, the same medicine can be sold at different prices in different packages and names. If you buy a medication without a prescription, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist for a reimbursable medication with the same active agent.
11) Reduce your franchise fees
A deductible of $1 is deducted from each box of prescribed medication (up to a limit of $60 per year). To reduce these deductible costs, it is possible for certain pathologies to request boxes of drugs in ‘large packaging’ for several months of treatment. For long-term treatment, it is, for example, possible to request boxes covering a three-month treatment to avoid paying $1 for each box of medicine. Another advantage, the price decreases according to the number of drugs. Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist.
12) Ask about the rates charged
On the Internet
Today, thanks to the Internet, it is easy to access the prices charged by doctors and specialists but also those of hospitals and clinics according to a specialty. Some resources, such as Healthgrades.com, offer choose a doctor or specialist according to its sector. For hospitalization, you will also have access to information such as the cost of the intervention, the amount of reimbursements and the rest payable. Do not hesitate to compare the prices charged from one health establishment to another for the same specialty.
By means of quotes
As with any purchase of everyday consumption, you can realize the differences in prices charged by health professionals, for the same service, thanks to essential quotes. So even a surgical intervention can become comparable and even negotiable. When buying glasses, for example, don’t hesitate to ask for different quotes for the same frame. The price of the glasses can vary according to the offer: ‘economic’, ‘personalized, etc. The price which is presented to you first is often part of the most expensive offer. Finally, be aware that healthcare professionals have the obligation to provide you with a quote for any procedure dearer than $80. This estimate must specify the nature and the amount of the acts as well as the overrun performed.
13) Think of other health services
Students in the 4th or 5th year of dental or optical specialties practice on real patients. This allows you to benefit from 30% to 55% discount on your treatments. The only downside is that you have to make an appointment during class hours and the wait is often long.
Mutual health centers
These centers welcome all insured persons, whether or not benefiting from a mutual benefit. The prices charged there are lower than those on the market and the services offered are varied:
– Reception of disabled people
– Home for the elderly
– Dental center
– City medicine / nursing
14) Buy your glasses online
Many serious websites allow you today to buy your glasses on the Internet. The prices are often halved compared to a traditional purchase in a store, which does not mean that your glasses will be of lower quality either! The difference in price can indeed be explained by the absence of infrastructure costs compared to a conventional optician.