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Lesko: Keeping Up with Health Care Costs

By Fox 40 Staff.
Jason: Recent surveys report health costs are rising faster than inflation and faster than many people can afford. Greg Lesko of Lesko Financial has insight on why, and how to cope.

Greg: More people in the US have health insurance than ever before, but that hasn't kept health care costs from rising dramatically. Those costs were expected to increase seven percent this year, at a time when wages have been mostly stagnant.

Employers have also shifted more of the burden for medical care onto their employees. Medical bills are also, unfortunately, a big reason behind many bankruptcies.

Jason: What's behind the increase?

Greg: Soaring drug costs are one reason. It costs a lot of money to bring new drugs to market, especially cancer drugs. Hospital expenses, plus the costs of procedures that are more prevalent today, such as a hip replacements, are also going up.

Heftier health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles are also responsible for the increase.

Jason: How can someone avoid being overwhelmed by medical bills?

Greg: First, try to stay in your insurance network, since most insurance problems stem from out-of-network disputes. Second, always double-check any medical bill to verify accuracy. Also, shop around. Many people who compare prices on other purchases won't do this with health care.

If it isn't an emergency, you might be able to trim costs by comparison shopping. Try to avoid visits to the emergency room, and visit one of the primary care centers instead. Many patients now save money by becoming medical tourists, going overseas for procedures.

And lastly, the best way to avoid costly medical bills is prevention by giving up unhealthy habits, exercising and leading an active life.