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Save a Buck Online, tips to cut health care costs

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By Reid Kanaley
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Published:
Health care gets more and more expensive. Still, there are things you can do to limit costs, starting with staying healthy.
These sites have tips for keeping a handle on drug and doctor bills:
Yahoo Finance (is.gd/daTm5O) has a video demonstrating how to save $1,500 on health bills. One lesson is to be your own advocate with your doctor; tell her you need to economize.
Then use supermarket-pharmacy deals on generics. Spreading appointments over time may take advantage of insurance allowances on dental plans.
Comparison-shop online for supplements. Take eyeglass prescriptions to a big-box-store optometrist.
At Bargaineering.com you can read a post by author and family physician Cynthia J. Koelker on ways to save.
Here's a biggie: Most insurance plans issue a "formulary" -- a list of the medications the insurer covers -- and it's important to take that list with you to the doctor, so he can refer to it when deciding which prescriptions to write.
Koelker also says to not rush to make a doctor's appointment if you're not acutely ill. Instead, call the office and ask if you need to make an appointment.
A few days' wait may be all it takes for what ails you to clear up.
Kiplinger.com also suggests avoiding the doctor's office, in this case by trying out a walk-in clinic at a local drugstore. Assuming you have insurance, make sure your policy covers retail-clinic care.
Also, contribute to a flexible-spending account if you have an employer that offers one.
Ask the doctor for samples of the medicines she is prescribing. One stretch in medical bargain-hunting is to take your dental problems to the student clinics at a dental school.
HowToSaveMoney.com says you might save by shopping for a private plan even if you have health care at work. There's no way to know until you look around.
Another option is keeping the worker on the employer plan but switch dependents to another plan.
This site also reminds readers that quitting smoking and staying fit are fundamental ways to reduce health-care costs.

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