5 Ways to Save on Health Care

Photo Credit: Philip FriedmanPhoto Credit: Philip FriedmanNo matter the outcome of the health-care battle raging in Washington, one diagnosis is beyond dispute: The cost of getting sick - and of staying well - continues to climb. Despair at the rising price tag on health is enough to make one want to leave the country. Even if you're not considering packing up, don't wait for laws to change. Use these smart tips to start saving today:

1. Don't be afraid to dicker with your doctor. Health-care providers know that times are tight, so don't be shy about asking for a price break. Ask the billing manager if the practice has a cash-payment discount program, which would grant you a price break if you pay up front rather than waiting to be billed.

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2. Find Free Screenings. The CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to uninsured, underinsured, and low-income women (less than about $44,000 for a family of four). For details, go to cdc.gov.

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3. Snag freebies. Drug manufacturers routinely stock doctors with samples of free meds. So if you need a prescription, just ask; you may well receive. And this holds true for skin cleansers at dermatologists' offices and even contact lens cleaners at optometrists' offices. Taking advantage of the doc's overstock is a great way to start growing your savings.

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4. Get cash back. It's easy to save money in all kinds of ways if you just know where to look. The Caregivers Marketplace - operated by Hamacher Resource Group, a Milwaukee-based health-care services provider - delivers rebates on pain relievers, vitamins, skin-care products, and other goods that are not typically covered by insurance or Medicare. Sign up at caregiversmarketplace.com.

Don't stop at medicines. Learn How to Save on all your groceries too.

5. Go to school to save. Check out your nearby university to see if its dental school has a student program. You'll get quality care for allowing a student (supervised by faculty) to perform your dental services. At Boston University School of Dental Medicine Predoctoral Patient Treatment Center, teeth cleaning and cavity filling services are up to 70 percent cheaper than the price you'd pay at a dentist's office in the area.

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