5 steps to prepare for medical procedures

A successful medical procedure starts before your appointment.

girl pushing mom in hospital wheelchairWhether you're planning major surgery or something relatively small, such as a mole removal, taking these 5 steps now can help you heal and save money.

Let's get started.

1. Find the right doctor.

You need a doctor who is experienced, highly rated and in-network so you don't pay more than you have to for care. Use Find a Doctor to search for an in-network provider—you'll pay less for the procedure, and your plan will cover more of the bill.

You also can use Find a Doctor to read patient reviews and search for Blue Distinction Total Care providers—a designation given to doctors who have met national criteria for providing quality care.

(Be sure to come back after your appointment to leave your own review. This helps other members searching for doctors.)

2. Learn whether you need approval for treatment.

Some medical procedures and surgeries require pre-authorization before you receive treatment to make sure you're covered. Your in-network doctor will seek approval for you, but it doesn't hurt to check with us, too.

If you use an out-of-network doctor, you must get pre-authorization or you'll be stuck with a high medical bill.

Some services that often need prior approval include, but are not limited to:

  • Bariatric surgery
  • Cochlear implant
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring
  • Varicose vein treatment

3. Estimate your costs.

You wouldn't buy a car without knowing the price first. You should head into your medical procedure with the same information.

Use the Cost Estimator to see how much your procedure will cost based on your benefits. Be sure to compare estimated costs between doctors to see whether you could save money by using a different provider.

Where you choose to receive care also affects the cost. Prices can vary widely between facilities so compare them, too. If you won't need overnight care after your procedure, you may want to consider a surgery center instead of a hospital.

The Cost Estimator can help you budget for the medical bill. You also can use the information to:

  • Clarify and confirm with your doctor what services you will be paying for and how much they will cost.
  • Spark a conversation with your doctor about ways to save money.
  • Start setting aside money to pay for the procedure.

4. Use your HSA/FSA.

If you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible savings account (FSA), you can use those funds to cover doctor bills, hospital stays and medication related to your procedure.

If you don't, consider opening an FSA if your employer provides one. Or, if you have a high-deductible health plan, consider opening an HSA. Both types of accounts let you set aside money before taxes that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. An added benefit of an HSA is that the account is yours forever, even if you change jobs, and it can be used during retirement.

Learn more about HSAs and FSAs.

5. See if you can get reimbursement for recovery supplies.

Check with Customer Service to see if your plan helps pay for recovery supplies. Bandages, crutches, canes and compression socks are just a few of the items that are often eligible.

These items are called "durable medical equipment" and reimbursement works like this:

  1. Buy the supplies.
  2. Send a copy of your itemized receipt to MedicalSupplies@regence.com and the name of the person it was bought for. To qualify for repayment, your receipt must show the product purchased.
  3. Within four to six weeks, we'll mail your check to the address we have on file.

Ask your doctor about opioids.

A variety of surgical procedures are treated with prescription opioids. They can be effective when used appropriately and safely, but opioids are often abused because they're so addictive.

Learn more about using opioids safely and how to talk your doctor before you take them.

Even procedures you plan for can disrupt your life a bit. When you're armed with information to help you heal and control costs, it's much easier to get back on your feet again.