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It's estimated that each year on average Americans spend roughly $11,000 per person on health care.  Without putting your health on the line, it's good to know where you can reduce medical costs:

1.  Generic drugs:  Always ask whether the prescription drug your doctor recommends is available in a generic form. Generic drugs can cost 20-70 percent less than name brands, saving you and your insurance company money. Also check into mail order as a way to cut costs.

2.  Avoid unnecessary tests and visits. If you move or change doctors, take copies of test results with you so they won't have to be re-done. Ask your doctor whether some follow-up visits and tests are necessary.

3.  Get free samples. Doctors, dentists, and optometrists get tons of samples from manufacturers. Ask your doctor for some instead of paying for prescriptions. 

4.  Consider bartering for services. You could trade services such as plumbing, legal advice, or tax preparation in exchange for medical services.

5.  Negotiate to see whether you can have certain fees waived or reduced. You may be able to reduce fees by paying the bill in cash up front. Be sure you ask for explanations of costs to ensure that they are accurate before paying the bill.

6.  Outsource common tests. Independent labs can screen for cancer, run drug tests, and analyze blood and urine.

7.  Seek tax breaks. You can deduct medical expenses if the itemized total is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. This includes expenses like acupuncture, artificial teeth, hearing aids, eye surgery, psychiatric care, and even weight-loss programs. IRS Publication 502 (see Related Links) contains more information on tax breaks and which medical expenses are deductible.

8.  Fill prescriptions online. This is the cheapest option for people who take drugs daily. Make sure any company you use is FDA approved, has a physical address, privacy policy, and a secure Web site.

9.  Review your insurance plan. Don’t focus solely on the monthly premium.  Consider the total cost of your plan, including out-of-pocket expenses. If you can afford a higher deductible, lowering premiums will offer immediate savings. Consider switching to a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSAs allow you to pay for current health expenses while saving for future medical expenses, tax-free.  Unused funds roll over to the following year.

10.  Don't skip on preventive care.  Not only could this cost you more in the long run, but many insurance benefits don’t charge a deductible for preventive services like mammograms, annual physical or well-baby care.  

11.  Save up to 25 percent on health care by using a flexible spending account (offered by many employers).  With a flexible spending account, you end up paying with pre-tax dollars for things like deductibles, co-pays, or glasses not covered by insurance.  The funds must be used in the calendar year, however.

12.  Check into what your health insurance says about after-hours health care facilities. In an emergency, if you go to just any urgent care center or emergency room, your insurance may not cover the cost of the visit.  Plan ahead.