Comparison Shopping for Medical Procedures? New Ways to Save on Health Care

If you decide to shop around, use caution. The lower price does not always equal the best quality of care, Hobson said. When you are considering any medical procedure it's important to get referrals from people that you trust, such as your primary care physician.

Buy Corrective Eyewear at National Chain

Only about 30 percent of employers provide vision care coverage, Hobson said. In most cases, health insurance only pays for the treatment of eye injuries or diseases, but not for glasses or contact lenses, she added.

If people need corrective lenses that aren't covered by insurance, they should consider joining a vision discount plan, she said.

Buying contacts and glasses through your ophthalmologist or optometrist is usually the most expensive option, Hobson said. Buying from a national chain, such as Walmart, Costco or Target, may bring big savings. Not only do these stores provide discounts on corrective vision items, but many locations offer optometrists onsite so you can get your eye exams and corrective eyewear together for even greater savings, she said.

You can also consider buying your eyewear online at 1-800-CONTACTS.

Save on Your Prescriptions

The Kaiser Foundation says the average American takes 12 prescription drugs annually.

Mail order pharmacies and generic drugs can help people save money, but doctors can also help patients to reduce their drug costs when they write the prescription.

Patients should ask their insurance companies for a list of the prescription medications that they cover -- the list is called a formulary -- and share it with their doctors. Ask the doctor to select the best medication for the lowest price.

Another way to save on prescriptions is to ask your doctor for samples of the medication, especially those for which you only need a small amount, or which you would like to try out first before you order it, Hobson said.

Don't forget about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). The program is funded by American pharmaceutical companies and helps people who can't afford prescriptions get the medications they need at almost no cost, if they qualify, Hobson said.

The PPA offers more than 2,500 brand name drugs and many generic ones.

Since its launch in 2005, the program has helped more than 6 million people.

To find out if you qualify, go to

Web-extra Tips

Make sure to get physical and dental checkups regularly. Adding this preventative measure will help you stay healthy, and may catch problems early enough so they do not become larger and costlier later on.

Doctors lose thousands of dollars on unpaid bills and credit card fees. If you can afford to pay for the procedure in advance and in cash, most doctors will give you a discount, sometimes up to 10 percent.

Before your kids can go back to school, they have to get the necessary vaccines. If you have no health insurance, or if your health insurance does not cover certain immunizations, you can get the shots at a deeply discounted rate through the Vaccines for Children program run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also get routine vaccines, like the flu shot, for a much lower price at drug stores and grocery stores.

Click HERE to visit the program.

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