August 18, 2009

Ask questions to stretch health dollars

Asking health providers questions may help health dollars go farther, a U.S. newsletter suggests.

The Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource recommends partnering with doctors to ensure tests are not being duplicated and asking if lower-cost treatment options are available.

For instance, the newsletter suggests asking if a nurse line is available to call for medical advice when it's unclear if a medical appointment is needed and determining if urgent care is necessary, or if outpatient services can be used.

The experts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., also advise asking the insurance company if there are discounts when premiums are paid annually.

The newsletter also suggests to:

-- Read benefits information. See if there are extras such as weight-loss program or equipment discounts.

-- Try to find out in advance about fees including an estimate of the total expenses and check with the insurance company about what's covered.

-- If a claim seems to be denied in error, appeal the decision.