I know I am not alone in feeling a little panic when facing the skyrocketing costs of health care in the U.S. on everything from an aspirin to surgery to insurance premiums. It seems everyone is looking for ways to combat the rising cost of medical care.
Here are a few pointers and resources with tips that may help reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality:
Always ask. Ask your doctor, hospital, lab, pharmacy, etc. if there is anything they might suggest that would lower the cost of treatment. You’d be surprised at what they might be able to do for you.
- Ask if discounts are offered to members of groups like AAA, AARP, veterans, government employees, professional or trade unions, or any any other organization or profession you can think of which may qualify you for an affiliated discount, don’t be afraid to ask!
- Prescription Drug Discount with AAA - This short video explains the AAA prescription drug discount program. But additionally, AAA members also may receive 15 % discount on nutritional products at GNC stores, reduced membership fees at Gold’s Gym and 30% off on regularly priced items at Reebok Outlet Stores.
- Ask your physician if generic medicines would work for you.
- Many pharmacies have a list of flat rate $4 or $5 generic prescription medicines available. Ask at the pharmacy for a list of those medications and bring that list to your doctors. Ask your doctors if they might be able to prescribe medications for you from those on the list.
- Ask your pharmacist if there might be other prescription options that would cost less, and if so, they can call your doctors for approval.
- How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs – Tips from Janet Bodnar, Deputy Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in this clip.
Your county may be providing free prescription Rx discounts cards.
- See if your county participates with the National Association of Counties (NACo) program.
Shop around. Pharmacies vary on the prices they charge for prescription medications just as they do for everything else on their shelves, so shop around to find the lowest prices. Don’t overlook ”big box” stores and membership discount stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for rock-bottom prices, on prescriptions and eye care. The price of membership may end up being worth the savings offered.
Keep a look out for free samples and ASK for free samples, from your physician and pharmacy, not only for prescriptions but on a variety of drug store items, too. In addition to asking, there are many websites like our partner, ShopAtHome.com, that offer special promotions, discounts, giveaways, free shipping, and free samples – for in-store and online shopping.
Use coupons and loyalty programs, and combine the discounts you receive from those with store promotions or sales whenever possible.
- Coupon Stacking Explained - How coupon stacking works, how easy it is, and a simple tip that adds up to big savings at the cash register from Julia Scott, CEO, BargainBabe.com
Amazon has a “subscribe and save” service that can help cut the cost of anything you buy on a regular interval and offers free shipping with sign up, which can often bring down the cost of regularly used items, like razor blades, toothpaste and tooth brushes, and shampoo at prices well below many big-box discount stores.
Opt for longer lasting items. When you shop for sundries, opt for the items that will last longer, like toothpaste from a tube instead of a pump, or bar soap instead of liquid.
Use less and use it all up. You may be using far more than you need to. Advertisements show us toothbrushes loaded with toothpaste, and luscious streaming waterfalls of shampoo, conditioners, and lotions, but in reality, most often all that is required is a tiny dab. Cut open the tubes when you think they are empty, you’ll be surprised at how much is actually left.
- Get Every Last Drop and Save Big Money - see just how much one little tube really has left when you think it’s empty.
Consider a little do-it-yourself. Several renowned beauty experts have all relied on natural items that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen to achieve the same, if not better, beautiful results as expensive cosmetic treatments, lotions, scrubs, moisturizers, hair conditioners, teeth brighteners, and bath spas. And there are several at-home products that may be effective in treating minor itches and sunburns, too.
- Check out these two SpendLessTV.com blog posts with ideas you can do using items you probably already have:
- 10 Luscious DIY At-Home Spa Ideas for Almost Free
- Itch-Stopping, Eco-Friendly, Money-Saving, DIY natural Insect Repellents & Soothing Remedies
Eyeglasses: Register for email notifications from websites like Coastal.com, to receive notice of their deeply discounted sale promotions, as well as their free eyeglass events. An example of a recent sale: 11 eyeglass styles for $11 each. You can even “try on” eyeglass frames online! I have personally ordered contact lenses from them and was very pleased with their service.
AAA members may receive 30% discounts on eyeglasses, and 10% discounts on contact lenses at Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical.
- More tips in this video from AOL contributor Aurora Nessly: Where To Get Discounted Eye Exams and Eyeglasses
Consider Bartering – Bartering is once again emerging as a popular viable option for receiving goods and services, and many medical practices are participating. There are several online bartering sites where you “bank” your skill and/or time for points, and then “swap” your points for medical services.
- Time Swap – The New Barter – Consumer advocate Stacy Johnson from MoneyTalksNews.com explains one online bartering site in this video.
- Bartering for Health Care – The story of one medical center in Maine that is participating in a barter bank to help make health care more accessible.
Here, from one of our favorite resources, Bottom Line Personal newsletter, from their interview with Clark Howard, host of The Clark Howard Show on CNN’s HLN network.(Volume 32, Number 21, November, 1, 2011), are tips for those not covered by health insurance to receive lower prices on services, prescription medications and eyeglasses:
- Get health-care providers and pharmacies to bid for your business online. If you requrie a medical, dental or vision procedure that is not covered by your insurance, enter it into the free website PriceDoc.com (registration required). Health-care professionals offer lower-than-normal prices through this site to bring in new clients. This site tends to be most useful for finding low prices for dental and cosmetic procedures. It’s sometimes possible to obtain discounts of 25% to 30% or more.
- For prescription medications, check out the free website BidRx.com (registration required). Enter your prescription medications into their site, and pharmacies will offer your their lowest prices. Only reputable U.S. pharmacies are allowed to participate. If you cannot wait for a medication to arrive by mail, the site can restrict the search to local pharmacies. Savings of as much as 50% are possible.
- An online site for eyeglasses at very low prices is Zenni Optical. They offer prescription eyeglasses online for less than $20 — lenses, frames and shipping included. Eyeglasses with special features such as lenses can cost $50 or more. The lenses are ground in China and theframes are not brand names, but the product is good quality. You can upload a picture of yourself to the site and “try on” frames. One downside is there is no post-purchase care or adjustments. You’ll have to bring them to a local optician to adjust fitting issues. To help ensure a proper fit, make sure your eye doctor checks and records on your prescription your pupillary distance (PD) — the distance between the centers of your pupils.
More from experts on health care savings:
- You Can Lower Your Medical Bills - Yes, you can negotiate medical fees. It never hurts to ask says Angie Hicks, founder of angieslist.com in this interview by Dr. Manny Alvarez on Fox.
- Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance - SLTV blog post with helpful resources giving ways to save on, or secure, general medical health insurance.
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