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In repeating this process with different pharmacies you will discover there can be quite a spread among even nearby drugstores. Suppose that your ten minutes on phone saves you $20 on your prescription. Then you have just earned money at a rate of $120 per hour each month for your efforts. It is time well spent.
Cost-consciousness is also valuable when it comes to medical tests. If cost of a medical test is prohibitive (as is often case) and you don't have luxury of letting someone else pay for it, then encourage your doctor to talk through your alternatives with you. Does same test cost less at one facility than at another? How important is test? What could go wrong if you skip it, delay it or substitute a less expensive test? What are chances of a serious repercussion?
Unfortunately, your doctor usually has less latitude when cost-optimizing your medical tests, but what could it hurt to ask? You might be glad you did.
And how about optimizing doctor's fee? This is also a fair topic for discussion. When you are considering an appointment with a new doctor it is certainly appropriate to ask for typical fees. However, in current U.S. medical marketplace, doctor's time is usually least expensive component of medical care. The doctor's fee is usually much less than costs of medications and tests. So while it is perfectly reasonable to shop around for affordable doctor fees, when it comes to choosing a doctor, quality issues should come first.
(C) 2005 by Gary Cordingley
Gary Cordingley, MD, PhD, is a clinical neurologist, teacher and researcher who works in Athens, Ohio. For more health-related articles see his website at: http://www.cordingleyneurology.com