How to Save $5,000 This Year
Clever, real-life ways to spend a lot less ($5,000 less, or even more) in 2010.
How to Save on Health CareBoth Gale Zucker, 52, and her husband, David Engler, also 52, are self-employed and their health insurance―which also covers sons Leo (not pictured), 19, and Gabe, 16―pays only for major medical events and a portion of routine care after the family meets a hefty $5,600 deductible. When she or David makes an appointment to see a doctor or a dentist, “we let them know our situation and ask each one how to cut expenses,” says Gale. “Our goal,” she says, “is to receive some of the same-quality health care as those who can afford better, more extravagant insurance.”
Medical bills are skyrocketing, costing the average household $2,976 last year (average numbers throughout are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Here’s how to reduce the pain:
- Use a retail clinic. If you have a serious but not life-threatening malady, such as a rash or a sore throat, consider heading to a medical clinic at a nearby pharmacy (like Walgreens or CVS), rather than your doctor, an urgent-care center, or the emergency room. Staffed by nurse-practitioners or physician’s assistants, they can treat minor conditions for less. Think $110 compared with $166 for a visit to your family doctor. Annual savings: $168
- Try Planned Parenthood. Visit one of these clinics if you need a routine Pap test, a new birth-control prescription, or even a flu shot. Call your local office to find out what services it offers and its fees (which vary from state to state but are often less than a private doctor’s). Most locations accept insurance.
- Head to a dental school for routine care. Most schools have clinics staffed by second- or third-year students that offer cleanings for up to 50 percent off the going rate. Call Oral Health America (312-836-9900) to find the location nearest you. Annual savings: $102
- Join a network. No dental insurance? If you have a big family or teeth that need lots of attention, or if you’re over 50 (which is when gum problems tend to occur), consider a discount dental plan. For $100 to $200 a year, you’ll get discounts of 10% to 60% on services and treatments. Visit dentalplans.com to find one.
- Hit the Web for eyewear. Look at sites like visiondirect.com and lens.com, for contact lenses; and zennioptical.com, where you can buy a pair of frames for as little as $8.
- Find the best deal on prescription drugs. First determine which local store has the best price by visiting shopping.destinationrx.com. Then compare your findings with online pharmacies, such as costco.com, drugstore.com, and familymeds.com.
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