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Three Simple Ways to Save on Medical Expenses

By David Bakke

how to save on medical expensesWhen it comes to medical expenses, you probably think that there aren’t too many ways that you can save money. Other than choosing the best and most efficient health care program for you and your family, what can you really do? Well, I recently had a few unexpected trips to the doctor’s office and I came up with three simple ways that one can save on medical expenses. Personally, I do one of these very well and two of them I don’t do well at all. The ones that I don’t do well have cost me significant amounts of money in the recent past.

A Healthier Lifestyle

This one is simple. Simple to define that is, but maybe a little more difficult to achieve. If you cannot live a completely healthy lifestyle, how about if we at least try to approach living a healthier lifestyle. Let’s say you smoke cigarettes, your 20 pounds overweight and you like to drink alcohol on the weekends. Exercise in your life is minimal, and fast food is the norm. So, is it feasible to think that you can give up all of these vices and start living, eating and breathing a healthier life? Of course not. So, depending on where you are on the healthy lifestyle scale, let’s just try to get moving in the right direction.

  • Replace as much red meat in your diet as you can with fruit, vegetables, and lean meats like grilled/baked chicken, turkey, and non-breaded fish..
  • If you smoke, stop or cut back as much as you can. Same with drinking. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, try the weaning off method of reducing it to six a day, then four, then two, until you’re craving slowly subsides. I know, it sounds easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere
  • If you don’t exercise, start. At least something. Walk around the block for 20 minutes three times a week and build from there.
  • Cut back as much as you possibly can on fast food, processed foods and soft drinks. The best way to do this is to brown bag it for lunch during the week.
  • Drink more water.

When you’re Sick, Go To the Doctor!

Sounds simple enough, but I think it is easier said than done for a lot of us. Maybe this is just a “guy” thing, and if it is, it’s probably also an “ego” thing. It happens with me almost every time I start to get sick. All of a sudden I become an expert in medicine and I decide that if I just “wait it out” I can avoid having to pay to go to the doctor. Sure, it has worked before…maybe 10% of the time. The result?  I wait until I am sick as a dog, and when I go to the doctor, I am diagnosed with a much more advanced case of whatever it is that I have. This, in turn, results in more prescriptions for longer periods of time, and more than likely a follow up visit. This usually doubles the cost of my doctor’s visit. So there you go–when you’re not feeling good, don’t wait and suffer…go to the doctor.

Then, Use As Directed

OK, so, I finally make it to the doctor and they send me off with handful of prescriptions. Again, the “medical expert” in me rears its ugly head. Suddenly I know which meds I need to take and which ones I don’t need to fill. Because half of these are things I don’t really need anyway. Also, I come up with the bright idea of not finishing my meds. Why? So I can save them up and try to avoid a doctor’s visit the next a similar illness arises (because I can diagnose myself, right?!). Again, I think this might be more of a guy thing and their stubbornness. My point is this. Once you go to the doctor, take their advice. Fill the prescriptions that they give you and finish them. By not doing so, you put yourself at risk for illnesses that linger (which can have serious health consequences) and the cost of additional follow-up visits.

Nothing is more fulfilling to me than finding ways to save money in an area that I first thought was impossible. Medical expenses is one of them. Improve the quality of the lifestyle that you live, go to the doctor when you don’t feel well, and follow their directions afterwards, and you should find that you’ll be spending less in this area.

Any other good ideas you have for saving on medical expenses?

(photo credit: 29085777@N04)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://www.debt-tips.com/blog Kris

    Not sure how you can save much on the expenses themselves, so prevention is clearly the best idea. Those who think doctors have the answers to every medical situation are doomed to spend lots on their healthcare. There are many alternatives that are better, cheaper to use, and less expensive in the long run. So consider a naturopath or chiropractor for those situations that don’t involve surgery or emergency.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com Craig

    The more you take care of yourself the less you will have to head to the doctor or buying over the counter medicine, saves a lot.

    • david

      Craig

      Its pretty elementary stuff, but its surprising how many of us don’t take as good a care of ourselves as we can.

      Thanks for commenting!

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