Escalating medical costs can pose a heavy financial burden to any Malaysian, regardless of their economic status. The fact is, healthcare costs can be incurred without warning after an unexpected incident, causing immense stress and anxiety. Here are a few practical ways to help minimise your healthcare expenses and avoid being caught off-guard if the worst should happen.
1. Understand Your Health Insurance
Find out what your personal and/or workplace health insurance covers and what you are entitled to claim when the need arises. That way, you’ll know if your plan is still adequate to cover your needs and the current high medical inflation rates.
If you don’t have medical insurance or if you need to top-up your existing plan, make sure you get a comprehensive one that covers all aspects of hospitalisation, including surgeries, medication, and outpatient treatments. Avoid those that require you to co-pay with your insurer as you’ll still need to pay a sizeable portion of the bill.
2. Be On The Lookout For Online Deals
You and your doctor should work together to craft a customised preventive health screening plan. Some of the tests may not be covered by your health insurance plan, so you can scout around for online deals to defray the costs.
Sites such as Fave (formerly known as Groupon) and the social media sites of health screening providers have regular promotions that you can take advantage of with ease. These promotions will save you a significant amount of money on tests for blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, pap smears, and more.
3. Go For Generic Brands
If you’re taking prescribed medication, ask your doctor for cheaper but equally effective alternatives. Generic brands are normally cheaper than their branded counterparts. The savings can be substantial, even up to 80%.
4. Ask For Free Samples
Did you know that pharmaceutical companies give out millions of ringgit worth of samples to doctors each year? Your doctor’s cabinets are probably chock full of these free samples and they could be yours, if you ask nicely. Imagine all that money you’d save, especially if the medication is a speciality drug.
5. Curb Unnecessary Services
Ask the doctor if the recommended treatments or medication are necessary or if you can make do without them until the symptoms intensify. For instance, if your cholesterol levels are on the high side, you may ask your doctor about practical lifestyle changes that you can implement within a certain time frame to lower the levels naturally before taking cholesterol lowering drugs.
Also, never indulge in unnecessary tests or procedures. Not only will they incur extra costs, there are always risks in any procedure, no matter how routine or safe it is.
6. Get A Second Opinion
If your doctor suggests a costly procedure, do not feel embarrassed about telling him or her that you want a second opinion. A good doctor should help you identify the second doctor and a third if you want a tie-breaker. If your doctor is offended by your request, maybe it’s time to find a better doctor.
7. Shop Around For The Best Prices
Don’t lock in the first price you are quoted. It pays to search hard for a better price. The cost of treatments and procedures vary a lot so you may save thousands of ringgit just by getting it in another hospital, town or country, even after including the cost of travel and hotel bills.
8. Get It In Writing
Before you get hospitalised for surgery or a procedure, get a written estimate of what you may be billed. Replace this sentence with: This helps you avoid the shock of unreasonable charges for such things as having a doctor perform services a nurse could do for a lower fee. Be sure to also ask for the maximum cost possible to prepare yourself for any eventuality.
9. Check The Bill Before Paying
If you are saddled with an unreasonable bill, request a fully itemised statement that reflects each of your charges. Many hospitals lump charges under a single heading with a vague name which can hide improperly billed items.
Be sure that you are paying for the right procedure and that you are not mistakenly charged two or three times for the same item. If the errors you find are honest mistakes, you may get the charges dropped with just a call to the billing department.
10. Minimise Visits To The Doctor
For the common flu and fever, instead of coughing up RM60-80 for the doctor’s consultation fee, you can just get over-the-counter medication for much less. The fewer trips to the doctor you make, the more you’ll save.
Bonus Tip: Get Personal Accident Insurance Coverage
A health insurance policy is great because it covers medical expenses caused by any illness, injury or medical condition. However, it does not cover disablement or death caused by an accident. This is where a personal accident policy comes in.
EZTakaful offers a range of comprehensive personal accident plans that cost as low as RM10 per month. You can add-on to the plan to customise it according to your needs. For example, EZCergas helps defray the high costs of a hospital stay after an accident. You get cash payouts of up to RM500 per day if you are hospitalised and up to RM250 per day to help your family with their daily expenses while you are in the hospital. EZCergas also covers follow-up treatments for up to RM2,500 after you are discharged from the hospital.
The good news is, unlike most health insurance policies, you don’t need to go through a medical examination and approval is guaranteed. For more info and to find out about their other plans, visit EZTakaful.