Reduce Living Expenses
Save on Drug and Medical Expenses

(Date posted: October 28, 2009)

This page shows how to save money by reducing drug and medical expenses. Drug and medical expenses can be significant for many people. By reducing these expenses, you can have more money for other things.

These suggestions are offered for your consideration. Perhaps they can guide you to a better life style. But the final choices are up to you.

Here are the topics:

Choose the appropriate health insurance
Get low-cost dental and medical services
Get low-cost drugs
Is alternative medical treatment safe?
Join the Medicare Part D prescription drug program
Prevent injury and sickness
Seek medical treatment when needed

In order to reduce your drug and medical expenses you may have to do some planning and change some of your habits and preferences. However, you should never put your health in danger! Whether the money you can save is worth the effort is up to you.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to reduce your living expenses be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer.

Choose the appropriate health insurance

The health insurance you choose should fit your expected needs. If you are single and in good health you can lower the premiums by opting for higher co-pays. If you have a family you may want a lower co-pay and broader coverage, because you expect to need frequent medical care.

Your employer may provide a health insurance plan that you can join.

There are also Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) that are connected to the U.S. government Medicare program. You can get more information at the Medicare website. You can also telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 to talk about the program or request the current Medicare & You handbook.

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Get low-cost dental and medical services

Dental schools may offer free or low-cost dental services from students.

Certain clinics may offer lower-cost medical care than regular physicians.

A general practitioner or primary care physician (often known as a "family doctor") can handle most of your medical needs and can refer you to a (more expensive) specialist when needed.

Sometimes you can negotiate the cost of your treatment before receiving it. And you may ask the doctor not to order any tests that aren't really needed. (Because of malpractice lawsuits, doctors in the United States are often forced to practice "preventative medicine" to lessen the chances of being sued.)

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Get low-cost drugs

Physicians get free drug samples from the drug manufacturers. If you are prescribed a certain drug, ask the doctor if any free samples of that drug are available.

Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs if they are available.

Rx Outreach(r) has certain drugs available for low-income individuals and families. You purchase a 180-day or 90-day supply at a time.

If you are on Medicare Part A or Part B, you may want prescription drug coverage under Part D. Go to the Join the Medicare Part D prescription drug program topic.

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Is alternative medical treatment safe?

Some people are choosing alternative medical treatment, either because it is less expensive or because traditional medical treatment does not seem to help them.

But it does no good to save money if the alternative medical treatment isn't safe or doesn't take care of your problem. I recommend that you carefully investigate any alternative medical treatment before using it.

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Join the Medicare Part D prescription drug program

If you are on Medicare Part A or Part B, you may want prescription drug coverage under Part D. This is where an insurance company pays for part of your prescription drugs. The premiums for this insurance are deducted from your monthly Medicare benefits. The rules are somewhat complicated (well naturally, it's a U.S. government program, after all).

You can get more information at the Medicare website. You can also telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 to talk about the program or request the current Medicare & You handbook.

During the applicable enrollment period, you apply for this program and select your insurance provider. In general this enrollment period is between November 15 and December 31 each year for new applicants. It is between January 1 and March 31 of each year for existing members of the program.

You want an insurance provider that covers the prescription drugs that you are already taking or that you are likely to need in the future. The insurance providers available to you depend on where you live. You probably can find an appropriate insurance provider by going to one of the following websites:

Medicare website -- This is the official government website.

Part D-Medicare.com -- This is a private website, but it may be easier to use.

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Prevent injury and sickness

One of the best ways to lower your drug and medical expenses is to adopt a lifestyle that lessens the chances of injury and sickness. Following are some examples:

Avoid dangerous activities, if possible.

Avoid hazardous occupations, if possible.

Avoid junk foods.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

Get help if you are abusing drugs and want to get off them. (You might try contacting Narcotics Anonymous.)

Get dental and medical checkups on a regular basis.

Get some exercise and fresh air frequently.

Give up alcohol and tobacco. (If you need help try contacting Alcoholics Anonymous.)

Keep your weight down (if you have to keep buying bigger clothes as an adult then you probably have a weight problem).

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Seek medical treatment when needed

If you have an injury or illness get it taken care of before it gets worse. The longer you wait the more expensive the treatment. If you think you can't afford treatment try to find some low-cost clinic that you can afford.

If you have a serious illness, it can be very dangerous (and eventually expensive) to try to treat yourself. It's usually better to see a doctor or go to the emergency room in a hospital.

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