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THE ECONOMICAL RETRO HOUSEWIFE

Tips For Saving On Your Health Care Costs

As the costs of health care and health insurance continue to rise, there are a number of things you can do to save money:
  • Get covered - Don't think the best way to save is by not buying health insurance. One accident or major illness can have a heavy financial toll on you and your family.
  • Strength in numbers - Groups get better rates than individuals. You'll usually do better joining your employer's plan than getting coverage individually. If you're self-employed, investigate professional organizations or other groups to which you may belong.
  • Cheaper isn't always better - The cheapest plan isn't always the one with the lowest premium. Check what your insurance covers, especially preventative care items.
  • The price of freedom - Traditional plans that let you go to any primary care physician (PCP) or specialist cost more. Managed care plans, especially preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and health maintenance organizations (HMOs), in which you choose doctors from a network, are cheaper.
  • Take advantage of tax breaks - Medical expenses, including insurance premiums, are tax-deductible if they exceed 7.5% of your income, and completely tax-deductible if you're self-employed or your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).
  • Flex your muscle - Use your employer's FSA or HSA to put aside pretax money for health care and medicines. You have to estimate how much you'll spend over the course of the year, and then use it up or lose it. If you're in the 25% federal tax bracket, for example, you'll save $250 in taxes for every $1,000 you contribute (check with your financial advisor to be sure).
  • Ask for samples - Your doctor may be able to supply you with enough free samples of a prescription drug to cover your need, or at least reduce your costs somewhat.
  • Shop around - Ordering prescriptions from a warehouse club or a Web-based distributor can save up to 80% or more on generics, and about 10% on brand-name drugs.
  • Play your cards right - Some prescription discount cards are free, while others have monthly or annual fees. Some drug companies even offer free cards for discounts ranging from 15% to 40% on brand-name drugs, although eligibility may depend on income and other factors.

Source: ING DIRECT - (Newsletter from August 14, 2007)

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