The prices of things are going up again (they call it inflation), but probably in no other area of industry is the inflation rate going up relentlessly year after year in the region of 10-15%. Take a look here:
The way things are going, this cartoon may not be that funny at all:
Here’s my tips on how you can cut your healthcare costs (short of not receiving any!):
If you have to be admitted to a hospital, try and avoid going in on a weekend. Yes, I know, if its an emergency, fair enough, you have to get in. You can’t choose your dates when you get sick and when that happens,you need to be hospitalised straightaway. But, in the case of when you have a choice of when to get into hospital (such as for an elective surgery or for an extensive checkup), it would be wise to plan ahead and choose a weekday.
Why? For several reasons:
- Many hospitals cut off what is deemed as ‘non-essential services’ for the weekend. You will not find a dietician or full physiotherapy services on a weekend. This means waiting for Monday before anything happens.
- Many specialists take off for the weekend (doctors are human,too), leaving just a specialist on call who may not be the person you are looking for. Sometimes, the appropriate specialist may not be available and the patient may end up being seen by a specialist who may not be a subspecialist in the desired field.
- It may sound unfair, but the majority of private hospitals levy an overtime surcharge for lab tests, imaging studies or usage of operation theatres if these are utilised on weekends. Even though you did not choose to get sick on a weekend, you may be surcharged up to 50% over and above the usual rates.
- The support staff, like nurses and technicians, are usually kept to a bare minimum on weekends to reduce overheads and sometimes, on a busy day with lots of emergencies, optimum care may not always be available.
In these recessionary and inflationary times, there are strategies that can be taken to minimise expenditure related to health without compromising on accessibility and efficacy.
One method is to fill your prescriptions with generic drugs rather than branded ones. Simply put, this means buying medications which have completed their patent license (the ‘copyright period’ so to speak when the company that discovered the drug has the sole right of production,usually ten years) from manufacturers other than the original company, the so-called generic manufacturers. This often brings tremendous cost-savings especially for those who are uninsured and have to pay out-of-pocket. The main reason generic drugs are cheaper is because the cost of research and development (R&D) is negated.
Indeed, the savings can be considerable. Take for instance the anticholesterol drug Zocor (chemical name simvastatin) whose patent rights expired in 2006 and the blood-thinner Plavix (clopidogrel) whose patent also expired recently. Both these drugs can be bought at up to 50% savings now that several generic manufacturers have commenced producing it.
The big disclaimer is that the generic drugs must be obtained from reputable generic manufacturers where their purity and efficacy are similar to the original. This is often measured via bioequivalent studies by reputable bodies such as the US FDA(Food and Drug Administration). Talk to your professional adviser and be guided accordingly.
As is often the case, there are many forgeries and low-end generics with doubtful bioequivalence available on the market – just check your spam email box to see the multitude on offer 😦 Caveat emptor!*
(*Latin for “let the buyer beware”)