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Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

EightWays to Reduce the Amount You Spend on Healthcare

Whether you’re living on a fixed income or not, trimming expenses is always a welcome option—especially when you can do so without sacrificing the quality of the goods or services you need. In the case of healthcare—a big expenditure for many seniors—implementing these easy tips to reduce the amount you spend can result in significant annual savings.

1. Pay cash in exchange for a discount.

Insurance paperwork processing costs practices money. Offer to pay cash for your exam or test and you may score a discount of 10 percent or more according to the AARP. Of course, you’ll need to make the payment immediately with cash or a personal check.

2. Use the emergency room for life-or-death emergencies only.

Urgent care facilities can treat less serious conditions—such as fractures, sprains, cuts and abrasions—for a fraction of what you’ll pay at the ER. Your wait time may be shorter as well.

3. Take advantage of free advice.

You can avoid many doctors’ office visits by calling a telephone help line staffed by nurses to have your questions answered instead. These trained professionals can advise you on at-home treatment options and will tell you if you need to go to the ER or make an appointment with your physician.

4. Buy generic medications.

Whether prescription or over-the-counter, generic medications are always less expensive than the brand name versions are. Fill your prescription at a big-box store such as Walmart or Target—which offer special generic medication programs—and you may be able to pay as little as $10 for a three-month supply.

5. Ask about a manufacturer’s “savings card.”

Whether the medication you need is unavailable as a generic or you’re allergic to the “filler” used in the generic version, you may still be able to save if the manufacturer offers a savings card program. Eligibility generally depends on your income and insurance, so talk to your pharmacist.

6. Shop around for your medications.

If you’re willing to drive across town or fill your prescription online, you may be able to save. Call several pharmacies and research the lowest price available for your particular medications. You can always ask your preferred pharmacist if he can meet or beat the price.

7. “Split” your pills.

It is possible to split some medications in half, doubling your number of doses for the same out-of-pocket cost. If your medication comes in an uncoated pill—and is not an extended-release drug—ask your doctor if she’ll prescribe double your recommended dosage so you can take half a pill each day.

8. Stay “in-network” whenever possible.

Whether you need to see a primary care physician, a geriatric specialist, have surgery or fill a prescription, a provider who is in-network works for fees your health insurer has pre-negotiated. Out-of-network providers can charge you whatever they want—and that often means as much as 20 percent more according to the AARP. Take particular care with elective surgeries. Physicians are not always aware of who is in- or out-of-network for your particular health insurance and may make a referral to the latter. Confirm the network status of any referred provider with your insurance company before scheduling a procedure.

If you’d like to review your health insurance policy or discuss additional ways to trim your healthcare costs, contact your insurance agent today.