Here's an entire page of the best tips we could find to help you
save big on health care! , even if you're in great health
now you'll want to skim through it. You'll see some fine
ideas showing how a little preventive self-care you can safeguard your
health and save you money.
Get Health Care At Low Or No Cost
|1. ||Government programs include Medicare for the elderly and
disabled and VA clinics for
veterans. The federal government also helps the states
administer programs such as Medicaid
for the poor, and the free Insure Kids
Now (also called "SCHIP") program for many low-to-moderate
Most city and county governments offer low-cost physicals,
immunizations and tests, oftentimes to people of all income
levels. Call some local health clinics and ask where
the least expensive care is available. Online you can go to the
government's Free and Low Cost Health Care
page to find these health centers.
clinics are privately-operated clinics becoming available in more cities: They
can often cut costs up to 50% on immunizations and the treatment of
Question Each Medical Expense
Unnecessary expenses. Nine out of ten doctors say they practice "defensive
medicine". For example, some doctors may order unnecessary
tests to avoid malpractice lawsuits. Ask your doctor which
parts of a treatment can be reduced, delayed or eliminated
without significant risks. Many hospital stays can be shortened: oftentimes a
family member can often provide sufficiently good care. If
you do stay in a hospital, check your medical bill.
Doctor negotiations. If a doctor recommends an expensive procedure, keep in mind that
about 25% of second opinions recommend a less expensive
option. If the procedure is still deemed necessary,
many doctors will negotiate lower prices if you
communicate that you're having trouble making ends meet.
A 1993 study by the General Accounting Office found excessive
charges in most hospital bills. Insist on daily
bills so you can discover these excesses early and prevent
Here are some ways to deduct medical and dental expenses, to
lower your income tax and social security tax.
Most companies are staffed with a benefits manager who can give
you more information about your company's health
About 30% - 40% of employers offer HSAs (Health Savings
Accounts) to their employees. An HSA can also be set up
by any individual at most financial institutions. It lets you deduct nearly
all your medical and dental expenses on your federal income tax
and on many state tax returns, so you'll save the same percentage
of money as your tax bracket. More savings comes from the
fact that an HSA is always used with high-deductible health
insurance, which of course costs less. You could also
save money by watching your health expenditures more closely
instead of relying on insurance, but be careful not to scrimp at
the expense of your health.|
Your HSA will of course earn interest. An
HSA is somewhat similar to an IRA in that you can use it
for retirement savings, but an HSA is better because it
also lets you make withdrawals for medical
expenses completely tax-free. Like you can with an IRA, you
can withdraw money for other purposes if you pay a 10% penalty and pay income tax on
If you're generally healthy and have few medical expenses, an HSA
is probably a good idea for you. If your health insurance
is provided by your employer, switching to high-deductible
insurance will save him a lot of money, so employers should be
willing to contribute most of those savings to your HSA.
A cafeteria plan allows an employee to choose from
various benefits on a pre-tax basis. You can opt to use this plan
to pay for medical expenses, children’s day care expenses, or insurance that may
cover health care, accidents, disability, vision, dental care and
group term life needs. However you must commit to the plan
before the calendar year begins, and you can only alter your
choice if there's a change in marital status, number of
dependents, or spouse’s employment. Any money that is unused by
the end of the year is kept by your employer.
A FSA (Flexible Spending Arrangement) can
be spent on expenses for health care, child care, summer day
camps, or the care of an aging parent (but not health
insurance). It's available from many employers and cuts
taxes in the same amount as an HSA. A FSA doesn't require
high-deductible insurance, but on the other hand you must use it
up by the end of the year or lose what's left. A FSA is great for
those people who have high medical expenses. It's underused
by the public because it doesn't generate a big profit for
benefit administration companies.
If you start to incur high medical costs, remember that you can
deduct medical bills exceeding 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross
Income on your tax return.|
Shop Around for Health Insurance
Online insurance-search sites could help you save up to
40% by showing you the lowest-cost offers. They carry most
of the different kinds of health insurance plans that people
High-deductible insurance can save 20-50% over five years
for relatively healthy people. This type of insurance kicks
in only for high medical expenses.
You can also save money by getting health insurance with
reduced benefits for items you may not need such as mental
health care, vision care, hearing care, substance abuse recovery,
maternity care, and dental work. Some plans strictly limit
medications, prescription drugs and/or hospitalization:
check the fine print to see if their limits are fair.
Employer or group insurance could save
10-20%, for example from the AAA, AARP, alumni and various
Two other insurance savers are a Preferred Provider
Organization (PPO) which reduces your choice of doctors, or a
Health Management Organization (HMO) which reduces doctor
choice and also reduces costs in two more ways. First, HMOs
place more emphasis on preventive care to reduce the chance
you'll get sick. Second, they reduce benefits that
management believes is excessive (such as overly long hospital
stays). The downside: HMOs may place limits on what
doctors feel is appropriate care, and you may experience
Shopping around could save you a lot of money by (1)
helping you implement the tips just mentioned, and (2) comparing
low-priced offers from health insurance companies. Many
people are pleasantly surprised by the affordability of several
health insurance plans. Of the
sites recommended by the Coalition for
Affordable Health Care (CAHC), eHealthInsurance
seems to be quickest and broadest. You can compare all
these types of plans, get free quotes, and apply online.
With these tips, you can cut your medical costs to the bone
without sacrificing your health!
Very Personal Health Tips|
Some of the best things you can do to help your
health are very, very personal in nature:
Release your emotions: both laughing and crying have been shown to be healing, and even life-changing.|
Your own deeply felt personal affirmations will always be
far more motivational than anyone else's advice. They can
only come from deep inside yourself.|
Build up a good support system: seek friends, advisors and
doctors who you really like and trust.|
Conversely, avoid toxic people when possible... and
"kill them with kindness" when it isn't.|
Do what you love: take note of what inspires you and
fulfills your soul... then live it every moment! If
you must work, you can stay inspired by consciously working
towards what fulfills you. That way, even if you would
like to be somewhere else or be doing something else, you can
still enjoy the moment.|
Best wishes for your health and happiness...
...from the editors at the CFA
These last six tipsheets have been quite an intensive "crash
course" in consumer wisdom. We hope we've been of help in
your quest for greater health, safety and
freedom. You'll be happy to hear that it gets a lot easier
from here on out. First we'll take a break with a review of
"The World's 12 Biggest Consumer Goofs."
This will help keep you safe from the worst traps faced by
consumers. Then in Part VII of this Special Report we'll
talk about some easy ways you can keep growing as a happier, healthier
and wiser consumer -- including how to keep getting great
| || || |
1. Consider a tax-saving HSA or FSA
2. Dump any addictive habits
3. Shop around to save on health plans
4. Take steps to ensure excellent dental hygiene
7 Tips To Save On Drugs|
|1. Compare prices.
||PharmacyChecker.com compares prices from many
sources, including inexpensive Canadian
suppliers. Comparing local prices from different drugstores, Wal-Mart
and Target can also help you save.|
|2. Generic drugs.
||Generic versions of brand names are
just as effective, and much cheaper.|
|3. Other brands.
||Alternative brands are cheaper yet often
quite effective (but they may be chemically different, so please
consult with your doctor first.)|
|4. Buying in bulk.
||You can often save 30% to 50% by buying enough to
last a few months.|
|5. Splitting pills.
||You could swallow a half-pill or three-quarters
pill instead of a whole pill, you're light enough (but ask your doctor first about possible under-medication
|6. Assistance programs.
||Both states and drug makers offer prescriptions at a reduced
cost to citizens with low-to-moderate income. You can visit NeedyMeds.com to search for these programs.
||For the elderly, Medicare
Part D pays for a part of your costs.
The CFA recommends Consumer
Reports Best Buy Drugs for those interested in more
information. You'll also find a price comparison
service there, but it excludes Canadian suppliers.
An artist asked the art gallery's owner if anyone had shown
interest in his paintings.
Joke: The Millionaire Art Lover
"I've got good news and bad news," said the owner. "The good news
is that some guy inquired if your art would appreciate in value
after you died. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of
"That's great, but what's the bad news?"
"That guy was your doctor!"
It's easy to forward this|
joke to your friends:
How To Save on Dental Bills|
|1. Good dental habits.
||Everyone should brush at least twice per
day and floss once. Brushing after every meal is
easiest: you can brush much more lightly because you're not
allowing plaque to build up.|
|2. Use a good toothbrush.
||A quality electric toothbrush such as the
Oral-B could reduce cavities about 10%.|
|3. Regular checkups.
||Prevent minor problems from becoming major
ones. Skipping checkups would probably increase your dental
expenses by 30% or more.|
|4. Cheaper treatment options.
||If your dentist recommends a porcelain filling, a
much cheaper (if less permanent) solution could be a metal
filling. And if you mention that you're on a limited
budget, one study shows that you can get a price break
from most dentists.|
|5. Eat less sugar.
||If not that, at least swish water in your mouth
afterwards, and/or brush your teeth soon after dessert.|
|6. Employer-paid dental insurance
||About half of employers pay for dental expenses,
reimbursing you for 30% to 70% of the cost.|
|7. Personal insurance or cards.
||Dental insurance and discount cards can protect
against high expenses, but you don't need them if you'll just
resolve to take good care of your teeth and gums.|
|8. Remind yourself.
||You can combat forgetfulness by keeping your
toothbrushes and dental floss placed near your eating utensils,
or by keeping a recent expensive dental receipt in your pile of
bills to pay.|
|9. Motivate your kids.
||You can help your kids remember by letting them
choose their favorite flavor (i.e. Mint or Watermelon), and
rewarding them for good dental checkups.|
| || |
Thought for the Day:
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."
~ Irish Proverb
The High Cost of Addictive Habits|
||A smoking habit costs $1,000 to $2,000 each year
in cigarettes alone. Non-smokers save about 30% on health care
and insurance, 50% on life insurance. Smokers are often
first in line to be fired and less likely to be hired (mostly
because they cost their employers more in health costs). QuitNet.com
is a great site to help you quit.|
|2. Substance abuse & Alcoholism.
Alcoholism and/or addictions can be just as costly.
Between 25% and 40% of all patients in general hospital beds are
being treated for alcohol-related problems. Heavy drinkers
pay 10% to 40% more for health care. Light "social
drinking" is okay for most people: health experts suggest
having no more than two drinks per day. The ACA helps heavy drinkers get their life back.
|3. Junk food & overeating.
||Overeating and junk food is an expensive and
growing problem: obese individuals pay about 25% more than
average for health care. The average American could save
about 25% on food by eliminating junk food or at least cutting it
to a minimum. ConsumerSearch compares the effectiveness
of weight-loss programs.|
1. Health saving accounts: 5 Tips, Gerri Willis, CNN/Money.
2. Health Care Deductions Guide, Publication 969, Internal Revenue Service
3. 7 ways to avoid "going naked" on health insurance, Paul Bannister, Bankrate.com article.
4. Tips for Health Insurance Cost Cutting, National Association for the Self-Employed article.
5. Google Answers: Save Money On Prescription Drugs, Google Answers article.
6. Cigarette Smoking, American Cancer Society article.
7. Health Care Costs of Alcohol, The Marin Institute article
8. Obesity Costs Rival Smoking, Jennifer Warner, WebMD Medical News
9. Take the bite out of dental costs, Carla Fried, MONEY Magazine.
10. Getting the Services You Need, Consumers' Checkbook dental article.
Poll: The "Guys, You|
Everyone who steps up to the plate,
swings and misses sometimes. Can you think of anything we
left out that would improve this Special Report? Every week the best
suggestion wins $25!