On January 16th, 2011, my husband and I (and our late-model Ford Taurus) were t-boned by a large truck. I was fine, but Hubby had a serious back injury. Over the next few years, medical care ate up a significant portion of our income. Because we weren’t insured at the time, I had to get really good at saving money on health care costs, and I found the help I needed online. Here are some free-to-use websites that can save you money, too.

Good Rx

Good Rx became one of my best friends during hubby’s recovery. At one point, he was on six different drugs (more than his grandma!). Good Rx is a price comparison and coupon website for prescription medications. To start, you type in the name of the drug and your city and state. On the next screen, you select your dosage and number of pills. The site then gives you a list of prices at your local pharmacies and a printable coupon.

Pros

There are several things about Good Rx I love. One is the fact that there’s a mobile app. Running back and forth to doctors’ appointments, we didn’t have a lot of time to go home and research prices. I also liked that no registration was required and that I didn’t have to fax in a copy of our prescriptions to get the prices.

Cons

The only con was that not all pharmacies take the coupons the site gives you. We live in a fairly well-populated area with lots of pharmacies (including some associated with major grocery chains) and I never had much of a problem. However, if you live in a rural area or small town with only one or two stores, you might not find a participating pharmacy as easily.

Healthcare Bluebook

Healthcare Bluebook does for medical care shopping what Kelly Bluebook did for car shopping. This site lets you type in the name of the procedure your doctor has recommended (or choose from a list of categories) and you’ll get an average price for the selected procedure in your area. That way, you’ll know if you’re being overcharged.

Pros

There were two things I really liked about this site. The first was how easy it was to navigate. When I looked up a price for Hubby’s lumbar (lower spine) X-ray, I had the average price in three clicks. My other favorite feature was the Detailed Price Agreement link. On the results page for every procedure, there’s a link to a PDF form you can take to your doctor or other health care provider for use in negotiating a final price.

Cons

There isn’t too much I don’t like about this site, but one thing is that instead of letting you enter your location, Healthcare Bluebook uses cookies to determine your location. That, to me, raises some privacy concerns. Another con with this site is that (since it doesn’t seem to have a mobile app) it’s hard to use it in an emergency if you don’t have web access. If you find yourself in the ER, it may be hard to research prices on the go. The main site itself, however, does work on my mobile browser; I just have to zoom in and scroll around a lot.

Walk-In Lab

One of the things Hubby and I had to do during the course of his recovery was periodic blood testing to ensure his cocktail of medications weren’t hurting his liver or other organs. The first CBC (Complete Blood Cont) test cost us over $100 (no chump change when you’re on one income). Walk-In Lab helped with those costs. The site lets you order a lab test online for substantially less than what the major labs charge. You find the test your doctor has ordered, pay for it, print the order, and take the order to a testing facility. Facilities are located in almost all cities.

Pros

My favorite thing about Walk-In Lab was predictability. I didn’t have to worry about how much the bill would be or keep track of when it would be due (just keeping track of Hubby’s medicine was quite enough). I also liked the fact that the website is BBC accredited and uses good security protocols for payment processing.

Cons

Walk-In Labs could use a few changes in navigation. They list the tests by ailment, which is fine, but if your doctor’s orders are written in medical-ese it might take some clicking around to find the right one (and you have to be careful you don’t order the wrong test). If Walk-In Lab would include the medical terminology in their search, the site would be perfect — or if doctors would just explain things in layman’s terms!

This is a guest post by Melanie of Greeley, CO
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