10 smart moves to save on health care

Price shop before any procedure

When scheduling a nonemergency procedure, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to choose from several in-network options.

Let's say there are three high-quality facilities in your insurance network where you can have the procedure.

You'll want to compare what each facility charges for your procedure because the costs can vary substantially.

First, get a general idea of fair pricing in your area using an online tool like Healthcare Bluebook, Pricing Healthcare or NerdWallet Health’s hospital price comparer.

Then call your in-network facilities, and ask what they charge before you commit.

Surprisingly, you might get the lowest rate if you don’t use your insurance.

Ask each facility for its cash rate. If it’s lower than what you’ll pay by having the procedure billed through your insurer, consider paying cash.

Circumventing insurance billing means your payment won’t count toward your annual deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, however. If you’re anticipating high medical spending for the year, using your insurance might save you money in the long run.