Save Thousands On Your Health Care

(State laws prohibit this service in California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, according to the site.)

*Save 50 to 80 percent

Caveat: "Ask your doctor to confirm the reliability of an 'outside' lab's performance before using it," says Kassirer.

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

7. Hire an Advocate

The gap between what an out-of-network doctor charges for a procedure and what your insurance will pay can often be considerable, and it's usually your responsibility to make up the difference. The result: a three-way dispute.

Patient-advocate services are skilled at resolving such conflicts. Philadelphia-based Healthcare Advocates Inc. charges from $50 to $400 per case — about $300 on average.

*Savings vary widely

Caveat: "Ask a representative if he's had success with your particular type of dispute," advises Kassirer. "With some claims, insurance companies never back down."

Visit prevention.com/advocate to learn how a patient advocate can help you save money.

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

8. Fill Prescriptions with Big Retailers

Mail-order pharmacies such as Drugstore.com, Drugs.com, and Costco.com typically beat the prices of neighborhood drugstores hands down. You can do your own price comparisons at Rxaminer.com, which was founded by a cardiologist and has the reputation for independence from special interest groups.

*Save 10 to 20 percent for name brands, 20 to 40 percent for generics

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

9. Split Pills

Most drugs are not priced according to strength, points out Fred Brock, a Kansas State University journalism professor and author of Health Care on Less Than You Think: The New York Times Guide to Getting Affordable Coverage.

Some popular cholesterol drugs come in at least three strengths — why not split the 40 mg pill in half if you only need 20 mg per dose, and have the prescription last twice as long?

Some pharmacy benefit managers will even give pill splitters to customers at no cost.

*Save Up to 50 percent

Caveat: Splitting pills may not always provide the optimal dose of the drug, so check with your doctor first.

***

More from Prevention:

Are Generic Drugs Safe?

The Truth Behind Generic Drugs

New Stay-Young Procedures

Rx For Safety

10. Try Bartering

"I've had electricians, plumbers, caterers, gardeners, and decorators offer services in exchange for health care," says Farrago. "If I had a solo practice, I'd do it in a second — though I'm blown away by electricians charging more than I do!"

*Savings vary widely

Caveat: None — "as long as you do a good job for the doctor!" says Kassirer.

No Insurance? Bargain With Cash

If your medical coverage lapses and you need to see a doctor or have a procedure done, offer cash up front. Doctors are often willing to discount their fees in return for guaranteed payment and being able to forgo the hassle of paperwork and administrative costs. Or, offer to match what Medicare would pay — typically about 20 percent less than what a private insurance plan would provide. Medicare reimbursement rates can be found on the AMA Web site, ama-assn.org.

E-shop for the Best Plan

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