Remember my post about asking? Have you ever asked what immunizations cost?
Immunizations can be very expensive, especially when given in a doctor's office. I was able to save about $480 on his immunizations!!!
Here's the story:
With my new insurance my baby's preventative benefits for the year ran out in his first visit. This means that my insurance will cover nothing, unless he gets sick or injured. No wellness visits, shots, nada.
Prior to his 6 month appointment I called my doctor's office and asked the secretary if there were any discounts she could give me on his upcoming visit. She said she'd give me a discount if I paid in full at the time of visit. I thanked her, but I wanted more options. She transferred me back to the nurse to talk about cost.
I explained to the nurse that my husband is self-employed, we don't make a lot of money, and our insurance won't pay for wellness visits for the rest of the year.
(This is a GREAT question to use, by the way!!)
She said I could work out a payment plan, offered the same discount the secretary offered, and said that's all she could do for me. (Hey, at least I tried, right?) She put me on hold while she added up the expected cost of the 6 immunizations that he would receive.
She described a program to assist people with no insurance. It brings the cost of the immunizations down to about $15 each. “But that wouldn't help you because you have insurance.”
She recommended I call a local health clinic to get better pricing on his shots.
So I did! I googled the Salt Lake health department, got the number and called. The lady said to come in, and depending on my circumstances, the immunizations could be as low as $10 each. Now that's more like it.
I went in (no appointments, walk-in only), and got helped immediately. The place was clean and well-staffed. I explained my situation to the receptionist “…I have insurance, but his preventative care ran out…too expensive in the doctor's office…was referred to you.”
She took my insurance card and informed me, “we aren't contracted with this insurance company, so I'm sorry but we can't bill through them.”
I said, “It's ok, it doesn't matter anyway because my preventative max has been met.”
She took out a price list and added up the immunization prices. $38…$69…$102…they added up quick. While it was cheaper than my doctor's office, it still added up to roughly $400-something. I couldn't believe it. I asked a few questions:
- Is there anything you can do about that price? (“No, that is simply what they cost”)
- Are there any other options? (“You could go to your pediatrician instead”)
- Do you offer payment plans? (“Yes, you pay what you can today then the rest is required in 30 days”)
- Get creative. You don't always have to get shots from your pediatrician's office – they always charge the most.
- Ask price. Never be embarrassed. Price shop doctors, clinics, locations, everything!
- Take advantage of county/city/state health clinics! I had a great experience at mine. You can get great, affordable care there.
- Ask, ask, ask. Ask lots of questions. Had I not asked so many questions to the secretary, nurse, and health clinic lady, I never would have saved so much.
- Be honest about your situation. While I'm sure that our tight financial situation is temporary, it's still tight. If you are a student, self-employed, or recently laid off, there are lots of programs out there to help you keep your family safe and healthy, affordably. Be honest with yourself and ask for help, and be honest with the programs – don't exaggerate or take advantage. That's just mean.