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12 Ways to Save on Health Costs

Save money at the pharmacy, gym and doctor's office

Hundred dollar bills strangled by a stethoscope.

James Blinn / Alamy Stock Photo

En español | 1. Use baking soda for indigestion. Packaged remedies like Alka-Seltzer are largely baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and aspirin. So if you don’t have a headache, drink ¼ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in ¼ cup of water. Save $8 per 36 doses.

2. Buy pills to split. Ask your doctor if it’s cheaper to get half the amount of double-strength medication and split each pill into two doses with a $5 device. For instance, 60 tablets of the 20mg Paxil cost $14.17 at Costco, according to GoodRX.com, but 30 tablets of the 40mg Paxil cost $11.87. You could save $80 to $100 a year. 

3. Join Silver Sneakers. Ask your health care provider if you are eligible. The program offers free gym memberships to folks 65-plus. Save $700 per year, on average.

4. For some meds, skip your insurance. Ask your pharmacist about the retail price of your prescription medication; it might be cheaper to pay that price. For example, the diabetes medication metformin costs about $4 for a month's supply, while the average copay is $11. Savings: $7.

5. Suspend your gym membership this summer, and take your exercise outdoors. You'll save around $58 a month.

6. Check supermarket pharmacies. Some national chains and discount stores offer common medications for free. If your deductible is $10, you'll save $120 a year on just one prescription.

7. Stream fitness classes online. Online fitness classes such as Daily Burn, Crunchlive and YogaToday typically cost around $15 per month for unlimited access — about what you'd pay for a single in-person class. Use a $15 subscription 12 times a month and you'll save $165. Plus you get to decide when class starts.

8. Buy glasses online. It can be 70 percent cheaper to buy at sites such as zennioptical.com than at a store. That's $210 off a $300 pair of specs. AARP members can save at EyeMed.

9. Shop around for meds. Area drug prices can vary widely. For example, a customer in Raleigh, N.C., was quoted $249 at a national chain for duloxetine. Costco charged $43 for the same prescription. Savings: $206.

10. Get help on drug costs. Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for the Extra Help program to cover prescriptions. Savings: up to $4,000 a year. Apply at socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp or call 800-772-1213.

11. Call in a medical bill negotiator to review your bills for errors and overcharges, and save up to $3,000.

12. Apply for free meds. Through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (pparx.org), qualified patients can get help. A free 120-day supply of the diabetes drug Victoza would save $2,096.

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