Medical Bills constitute 7% of the Indian Household expenditure. I am referring the same study that i shared in my post on utility bills. For example, if my monthly income is 1L. In this case, on an average, i must be spending Rs 84k during a year only towards healthcare or medical bills. A couple of years back, i pulled out my medical bills and healthcare cost was approx 10%. I decided to cut down on my medical bills. You must be wondering, why medical bills do not pinch. The reason being, in India people don’t mind spending on 3 major heads
Under all 3 heads, if my budget is Rs 10,000 then i will not mind spending Rs 20,000 by cutting down other expenses/costs. Don’t take me wrong but how many middle-class people prefer to visit Govt Hospitals. I can bet none. I do agree that everyone wants quality healthcare and cannot compromise on the same. On an average, a visit to the doctor cost min Rs 1,000 – 1,200.
Recently my wife visited one of the skin specialists and he prescribed four medicines. The doctor specifically told my wife to buy from XYZ chemist shop and these medicines will be available only in XYZ chemist shop. As the shop was far, therefore, i thought of checking with 4-5 chemist shops near my place. Trust me not even a single medicine was available with either of the chemist. All of them offered alternatives. My regular chemist told me that “Sir these are too costly medicines. All the medicines are from 5-star pharma companies. You can buy alternative medicine”.
Each medicine costs somewhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 thus approx Rs 5,000 for all four. The cheaper alternatives were available for around Rs 2,000 i.e less than 50%. But like typical Indian psychology, my wife wanted same medicines with same name:). My parents also keep sharing their experiences of highly inflated medical bills. Therefore, i have fair idea and experience on this subject :). Based on my experience, I am listing down 7 tried and tested tips to save medical bills.
7 Tried and Tested Tips To Save Medical Bills or Healthcare Cost
1. Look out for Good Doctor:
Recently my father was not keeping well. He was seeing a doctor in the vicinity. The doctor charged Rs 600 each time on 4 visits i.e. Rs 2,400. He suggested tests worth more than Rs 5,000. In one of the study, it was concluded that most of the medical tests are avoidable. On top of it, he was not getting any relief and condition got worsened. Then we found another specialist in one of the reputed hospital in Delhi. You will not imagine that with just 2 visits to the doctor he was perfectly alright. This doctor prescribed only One tablet a day. Though doctor charged Rs 1,500 for each visit but trust me it is much cheaper compared to earlier treatment. The best part is doctor identified the real cause in the first attempt.
Therefore, if you can find out a good doctor then you can save medical bills because of less no of visits to the doctor and effective medication rather hit & trial treatment.
2. Alternatives i.e. Medicines with the same salt:
Not many of us are aware that in western countries the doctors don’t prescribe a medicine name. They only suggest a salt. The patient has an option to select the medicine of his/her choice based on the salt composition. For example, Cetirizine salt is one of the most common anti-allergic medication. Now when i checked with chemist he told that i can find a strip of 10 tabs from Rs 15 to Rs 45. In other words, the costliest one is 3 times the cheapest one with the same salt.
As i shared in the example of my wife, most of the people are not comfortable with alternatives and only buy the medicine as prescribed. To overcome this problem, you should not feel shy and ask the doctor, the cost of the medicines prescribed. You can request him/her to prescribe any cheaper version available with same salt composition. Sometimes the doctor gives a look as if i am not paying his fees. As you paid his/her fees, therefore, it is your right to know about the right medicine at the right cost. It will cut down on your medical bills drastically.
Just for the information of readers that Govt of India is also planning to move towards a practice of prescribing salt instead of a drug. Hope the regulation will be passed earlier than expected.
3. Cheap to Buy Healthcare Devices:
Some of the healthcare devices have high perceived value and the patient thinks that they are very costly. I observed that sometimes it is cheap to buy rather availing service in clinic or hospital. One such device is nebulizer. In one of the instance, the doctor prescribed to use a nebulizer for 7 days. The nearby clinic used to charge Rs 250 per sitting. Therefore, the total cost of treatment was Rs 1,750.
The “good”doctor told that you buy your own nebulizer rather paying to a nearby clinic. It cost Rs 1,250 thus we recovered the cost of the nebulizer in 5 sittings. The same goes for sugar test. In any pathology lab, you are charged min Rs 100 for a sugar test but if you buy your own kit then cost per test can be as low as Rs 20. Another healthcare device that comes to my mind is BP machine.
Therefore, in certain cases, you can save on medical bills by buying healthcare devices. In other words, depending on the usage and cost, in some cases, it is advisable to buy healthcare devices to save medical bills.
4. Return unused medicines:
Most of the times, some medicines remain unused or goes waste thus resulting in high medical bills. The reason being, doctor change the medicine in between or patient stop taking medicines if he/she is feeling fine. Therefore, you should buy only from a chemist who is willing to accept the return of unused medicines. In some cities like Mumbai, the chemist association has decided not to accept the return of unused medicines or sell loose medicines. This unwritten dictate is not strictly followed. You can always find a chemist who can sell loose medicine and also accept the return of unused medicines.
5. Buy small packaging:
In my case, i observed that more than half of the medicines expire every year and i have to throw them in the dustbin. Therefore, you should always ask for small packaging of a medicine or ointment not much in use. Recently, i dumped some of the ointments used only 10% as the date expired. Therefore small packaging can help you to save on medical bills.
6. Check the stock at home before purchase:
Most of the times it happens that doctor prescribe a commonly used drug and we buy without checking stock at home. In my house, one big cupboard is used exclusively for medicines. In past, on one occasion i found 4 bottles of same syrup half used. Thus, wastage of money. Before purchase, It is always advisable to check whether the same or alternative medicine is available at home or not. It can cut down your medical bills.
7. Never shy of asking for discount:
Last month, i took my mother for some medical tests in the very popular pathology lab. She regularly gets her tests done from same pathology lab in Delhi. I was casually reading some 25 points mentioned on the board near reception. The point no 17 read that the lab offers 15% discount to senior citizens. I asked my mother has she availed discount in past. She told that it was never informed to her. When i checked at reception, the executive told shamelessly that they offer a discount only if someone asks for it. It is basically a strategy.
Not many people are aware that normally chemists also offer 10% discount on total bill provided you ask for it. I can bet that you will definitely find a chemist in the neighborhood who will offer a discount. The only catch is you have to ask for it. Therefore, your medical bills will be 10% less if you get a discount. Moreover, i order some of the medicines online as the online discount is 20%. The process is very simple and you only need to upload doctor’s prescription for non-OTC drugs.
Words of Wisdom:
I hope that the points shared in this post will help you to cut down your medical bills. As i keep highlighting in my posts on health insurance that medical inflation is one of the highest in India. At old age, it is one of the major expenses for senior citizens as i observe in the case of my parents. Healthcare cost can be wealth destroyer. For young people, only suggestion is to take good care of your health and diet. In most of the cases, body weight is the main culprit. Therefore, if you are obese/overweight you can focus on weight loss.
To conclude, if are able to cut your medical bills by 20% after reading this post, i will think that this post is worth sharing.
Copyright © Nitin Bhatia. All Rights Reserved.
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