A doctor stands in front of a sunny window in her office and talks to her patient sitting in a chair.

No insurance? Paying cash can help you save money

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You may be able to pay a lower price for Medicare if you skip insurance and use the cash.


the main points

  • Using health insurance may not always be the best financial option.
  • Paying with cash or self-pay may save you some medical costs.
  • Some other ways to save include getting regular preventative care and looking for low-cost clinics.

In the United States, medical costs can be high. Even if you have insurance, basic healthcare needs can change your budget dramatically.

Most people assume that using health insurance benefits is the best way to pay for Medicare. But this may not always be the case. It may be worth skipping the insurance and seeing a doctor who accepts cash payment.

While many medical professionals accept health insurance, some accept cash, or self-pay, which may be cheaper than you expect. Even if you have insurance, you may be able to pay a cash rate for a test or treatment instead of using your own insurance coverage. Some medical practices offer their services at a discounted cash rate because they do not have to wait for the insurance company to pay and get paid faster.

If your budget is tight and you need medical care, it is a good idea to consider the cost of the service when using health insurance and compare the cash rate, if available. You may be able to keep more money in your bank account.

My experience with cash payment

While I now have vision insurance, that wasn’t always the case. For several years, it went without coverage. Since I was a little kid, I’ve been wearing glasses, so skipping my vision tests wasn’t something I could do if I wanted to see well.

I have a thorough medical history and have used the same eye doctor for many years. Once I no longer had vision coverage, I asked my doctor if she had a cash back rate for exams. She did. I started paying the $100 cash price whenever I needed a test and a new prescription.

This worked for me because I didn’t have to switch doctors, and I could continue to see someone who really understood my medical needs. It worked for her because she got paid right away and didn’t have to deal with insurance.

Although I could have gotten a slightly lower test price at a low-cost store for vision tests, I didn’t want to risk a bad experience with a new provider. For me, it was worth the investment for my peace of mind.

I also used cash for treatment. At one point, I had medical insurance that lacked good mental health coverage. I found a processor that accepts cash payments at a rate that fits my budget. I was paying less cash than I would have paid to use my health insurance.

4 Tips for Paying Less for Medicare

Wondering how to find medical providers that accept cash payment? If you’ve already set up medical providers to work with, ask them if they have a cash-out rate. You can also reach out to new providers in your area and see if they have self-pay rates.

Here are some additional resources that can help you save on health care costs:

  1. Do not ignore preventive care. You’ll likely have some preventive care covered at no extra cost if you have insurance. This may include a free annual test. Make sure you keep up with preventive health care—especially if it doesn’t cost you more. This may help you avoid more costly medical problems in the future.
  2. Check for low cost clinics. Your community may have a low-cost health center or sometimes run low-cost clinics. Keep an eye out for these programs or events, and don’t be afraid to use money-saving resources.
  3. Visit dental schools for dental care. If you live in a city that has a dental school, you may be able to get affordable dental cleanings, exams, and treatment at the school’s dental clinic. Dental students need to learn and practice, and they work alongside their professors to help members of the community get the dental care they need.
  4. Use GoodRX to save money on prescriptions. If you don’t have insurance or have insurance with minimal prescription benefits, GoodRX can help you save money on the cost of your medications.

Do what you can to reduce your healthcare costs

If medical costs are stressing you out, you’re not alone. Americans of all ages suffer from the rising cost of health care. If money is tight, use the resources available in your area so you don’t have to skip basic medical care.

If you do need treatment, check to see if a cash case might work better for your financial situation. While paying cash for comprehensive medical needs may not make sense, it may be an excellent option for a quick test or low-cost service.

For additional ways to save money in your everyday life, check out our personal finance resources.

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