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Medical expense do’s and don’ts

By Paula Pant ·
Monday, February 4, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

Saving money is great, but not if it comes at the expense of your health. While it's good to be money-conscious in everything you do, beware of acting in a way that's penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to your health.

Here are some of my personal favorite do's and don'ts when paying for medical and health costs.

Do: Ask your doctor if there's a generic brand of a prescription medication you can take. Many (but not all) medications offer a less expensive generic brand that's equally effective. Your doctor will advise you on whether or not you can take the generic course.

Do: Opt for suitable generic over-the-counter drugs. Tylenol is a brand name, but generic acetaminophen works just as well. Advil is a brand name, but generic ibuprofen is far cheaper and equally effective. You will also pay more for Aleve, the brand name for naproxen.

Don't: Skip doctor's visits. Sure, you have to shell out a copay for many appointments with a physician. Or, depending on your health insurance, you may have to pay for the entire visit. But letting an illness or injury go undiagnosed and untreated can end up costing you far more in the long term.

Don't: Skip medications. Your doctor didn't prescribe you a certain round of pharmaceuticals because he wanted you to spend frivolously. He prescribed pills because, in his medical opinion, they will help you. Be a compliant patient and obey your doctor's orders when it comes to popping pills, even if you have to pay out of pocket for the prescription.

Do: Save money by purchasing in-season and local produce. Shop at farmer's markets (if they are cheaper) or compare produce prices between stores. Most importantly, buy only what you will consume. It doesn't matter how cheap the deal was if you end up throwing away rotting produce at the end of the week.

Don't: Stick to eating only breads and pastas in an effort to save some cash. Consume a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Yes, these foods cost more than a 2-pound sack of rice or potatoes. But they are essential for maintaining strong health and immunity.

Paula Pant blogs at about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @affordanything.

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