10 smart moves to save on health care

Verify your provider’s in-network status

In an ideal world, both your doctor and insurance company would notify you if a provider leaves your network.

Notification doesn’t always happen, especially for patients with individual or small-business policies.

Physicians sometimes leave networks because the insurance company’s reimbursement rate is too low or its administrative requirements too burdensome.

Other times the insurer eliminates the provider over subpar quality of care, breach of contract or high costs.

"The insurers are trying to make as much money as possible and look to shrinking networks to improve their profit margins," says Sarah O’Leary, founder of ExHale Healthcare Advocates in Los Angeles. "Always call ahead and check to see that your provider is in your network prior to receiving any nonemergency test, procedure or exam."

Otherwise, you might learn when the bill comes that you're responsible for the much higher out-of-network rate. Even worse, your insurance company might deny coverage altogether.

In this worst-case scenario, call the provider and ask for the cash rate. It should lower your bill.