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Using Your Healthcare Dollars Wisely

It seems everyone is looking for ways to save money: clipping coupons, waiting for half-off sales, etc. But what about money-savings advantages for healthcare? There are things you can do to save money on your healthcare costs.

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care! What Should You Do?

You can save money and time by using the emergency room wisely. If you or a loved one experiences a true emergency -- or if you are not sure based on the severity of symptoms, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 for assistance.

But just know that you have other -- less expensive -- and just as effective options such as:

  • SAME OR NEXT DAY APPOINTMENTS:
    • You PCP's office has set aside same or next day appointments for urgent care situations.
    • Urgent care appointments with your PCP cost less than an emergency room visit copay.
    • Call your physician's office for their urgent care guidelines.
  • USE AN URGENT CARE CENTER:
    • Keep a list of Urgent Care Centers -- along with their hours of operation handy.
    • In most cases, your urgent care center copay is considerably less than an emergency room copay!

Shop, compare and save before you get treatment

Medical treatment costs can vary widely among doctors and facilities. Costs also play a part in deciding where to get treatment. We've made the process easy with a new online tool – the Health Care Cost Estimator.

Don't Have Prescription Medication Coverage?

Present your HAP ID card to receive the HAP discount on prescription medications. It's lower than the retail cost!

Generic Drugs

Don't be impressed with fancy names!

With generic drugs, you're getting safety and the backing of the U.S. government.

  • Lower copay -- financial incentive
  • Just as safe... just as good
  • FDA approved, etc.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting a generic equivalent

A little known fact is many generic drugs are manufactured in the same location as their brand name counterparts. The only exception is one has a patent -- and the generic does not.

  • What is a generic drug? A generic drug is a copy of a brand name medication. It is made with the same active ingredients and is available in the same strengths and dosage form as the brand-name medication.
  • Are generic drugs as safe as brand name drugs? Yes. The FDA requires that all prescription drugs be safe and effective. Generics use the same active ingredients and are shown to work the same way with the same benefits as their brand-name counterparts.
  • Are generic drugs as strong as brand-name drugs? Yes. The FDA requires generic drugs to have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs.
  • Why are generic drugs less expensive? Generic drugs are less expensive because generic manufacturers don't have the investment costs of the new drug, so they can sell their drug at big discounts. Once generic drugs are approved, greater competition keeps the price down. Today, almost seventy percent of all prescriptions are filled with generics at a savings of up to 80%—saving consumers an estimated $8 to 10 billion annually.
  • Lower Cost alternatives for me? When your physician prescribes a medication for you, ask if a generic alternative is available. If a generic is not available, ask your physician if there is a generic medication that is just as safe and effective to treat your condition.
  • Why do we see so many drug ads on TV? Manufacturers know that advertising sells. It works for everything from soap to toothpaste to cars. And now, even prescription medications are being advertised to the public. Drug companies advertise only their newest and most expensive medications. They want you to help them sell their product by urging you to "ask your doctor" about them. Remember... Advertising sells products, not quality health care!
  • Are new drugs better? Using the newest drugs may not be in your best interest. Unexpected side effects or other health problems often don't show up until the general public has used the drugs for a while.
  • Where can I learn about generic drugs? Contact your physician or pharmacist for more information on generic drugs. You can also visit the FDA Web site for more information about generic drugs.

Generic drugs offer cost savings with the same safety and effectiveness of the brand name medication. Generic drugs make healthcare more affordable for consumers and employers.

Understanding Patent Control

What's patent control? The brand name is the name under which the product is sold and is protected by a patent for up to 20 years. When the patent expires for the brand name, any manufacturer can produce the generic equivalent of the brand name drug and sell it under its chemical or "generic" name. We've witnessed this with the brand name Motrin. We've seen the generic equivalent of Motrin "Ibuprofen" literally on every counter. Same active ingredients: different color, shape and name. Generic drugs are merely marketed by their chemical names rather than the brand name.

Over-The-Counter Medications

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications available that are safe and effective to treat common medical conditions. For example, OTC medications are available to treat allergies, cough and cold, heartburn, pain and inflammation, headache and fever just to name a few. In many cases, OTC medications cost less than prescription co-pays. Check with your physician to see if an OTC may be right for your medical condition.

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