How to save on your health care costs

May 23, 2013 Denise Pinkney

Save the Emergency Room for emergencies. Don't let nagging problems get worse so that you end up in the emergency room. Instead, work with your primary care provider to stay on top of your health. Also, identify walk-in clinics in your area that may be able to address your condition; they are more cost effective than emergency room visits.

Take advantage of your preventive benefits. Use the screenings, tests and immunizations included in your plan to detect potentially life-threatening and costly problems early or avoid them altogether.  

Stay in network. Visiting in-network health care providers saves you out-of-pocket costs. Check for providers in your network.

Request generic drugs. They're cheaper than their brand name counterparts—up to 80 percent less.

Take advantage of free tools to manage your own health. Many BCBSND plans include HealthyBlue, an online wellness center which includes a self health assessment plus tools to help you set and reach wellness goals such as losing weight, managing stress, quitting tobacco and many others. Participants can even earn gifts cards to popular retailers, if their plan includes that benefit.

Get reimbursed for using a health club. Many plans also include the Health Club Credit Program which reimburses $20 per month when you exercise at your health club 12 or more times in a month.

Keep track of your health care dollars. Your secure login to online member services allows you to track your claims and out-of-pocket costs.

Be in the know. Before you have a procedure, you can do two things to avoid unexpected costs. First, ask your doctor for procedure codes so you can get a cost estimate from the business office. Second, contact BCBSND Member Services to make sure the procedure is covered under your plan.