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Be a Smart Health Care Consumer

It’s smart to spend your health dollars wisely. Just don’t take unnecessary risks.

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These days, more and more people are taking charge of their health spending. In efforts to stretch health care dollars, it’s no surprise that some people look for ways to budget health care dollars wisely. And that’s a smart idea, as long as those decisions are made with their health in mind. If you’re looking to save money and take care of your health, here are some tips that may help:

  1. Stay up to date on doctor visits and screenings. Even if you’re not sick, make sure to get preventive screenings, immunizations and routine health care. Some preventive tests are now free, with no copays, deductibles or co-insurance. Women, for example, may be able to get mammograms, Pap smears and prenatal care at no cost. Getting routine care can also help you catch health issues earlier, which may lead to cost savings.

  2. Ask if care is necessary. Talk to your doctor about whether or not a test or treatment is needed. What will you learn from it? Is the result likely to change your treatment plan? What are the risks and benefits of the procedure? Decide together whether the test is essential to your care.

  3. Make lifestyle changes. Your doctor may have advised you to stop smoking (think of the money savings!) or to lose weight, or to get more exercise and eat better. These lifestyle changes have big payoffs. They may lead to a longer, healthier life, even if you’re battling a long-term condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. Commit to changing your habits — it can be the best investment you make.

  4. Take your meds as prescribed. Taking less medicine than the doctor prescribes or skipping doses can be dangerous for your health. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any concerns about paying for your medicines. Ask about generics. Try finding a discount pharmacy. And don’t try to treat your condition with over-the-counter medicine instead of filling a prescription unless you’ve discussed this approach with your doctor. Your symptoms or your condition could get much worse if you don’t treat it properly.

  5. Track your expenses. Medical expenses can add up during the year. But taking a little time to get organized can have a big payoff come tax time. Keep all your records in one place and make a note on why you incurred each expense as you put it away. Track your medical expenses with a basic spreadsheet, web-based tool or app. Keep precise records and hang on to all your receipts. Qualifying high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts (HSAs) may also help you save for future health costs.

Good luck as you take an active role in your health, keep an eye on your health care dollars and be your healthiest self!

By Ginny Greene, Contributing Editor

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Family health. Regular check-ups are important. Accessed: September 11, 2017.
National Institutes of Health. Clear communication. Talking to your doctor. Accessed: September 11, 2017. Self-management: Taking charge of your health. Accessed: September 11, 2017.

Last Updated: September 12, 2017