You have heard the saying ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch,’ well when it comes to medication the same is true. In fact, *the global market for pharmaceuticals reached $1.2 trillion in 2018, up $100 billion from 2017, according to the Global Use of Medicines report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. Going forward, the global market will grow by 4-5% CAGR, reaching $1.5 trillion. In the U.S. alone, **the cost of prescription drugs has become a hot-button issue with consumers and policymakers.  One in four people taking prescription drugs report difficulty affording their medication

At one time or another, all of us will need medical treatment. Whether it would be for simple colds or for serious illnesses, unless you have expensive insurance that covers you 100%,  these things can put a dent in our budget.

According to a recent study, Americans spend more money on medical expenses than any other country in the world. As prices get higher and lifestyle choices increase the cost of living, saving money on medical expenses is an important consideration – living within our means and our budget, especially as we get older and closer to retirement, becomes a good habit to make and stick to.

Here are three practical tips to help to cut your medical costs:

Take Care of Your Health

Prevention is always better than cure. Being fit and healthy is more than a 21st century fad. The fact is, people who are more active spend less on medical expenses than those who live non-active lives. In fact, to take it a step further, think of how much money you save when you only go to the doctor for well-care visits such as annual check-ups.

"Take Care of Your Health"

For smokers and drinkers, reducing cigarette and alcohol consumption will save you money on future medical expenses as well as the money you save by not buying them.

Go Generic

Taking generic drugs is a viable option for nearly all drugs these day. Patents are used by manufacturers to be able to set a price so they can recover their costs in developing their products. But these patents don’t last forever and when a patent runs out, generic versions of these drugs become available. Generic drugs are basically the same as the branded ones in terms of ingredients and quality. They just don’t have the name or marketing budget which makes them much less to purchase.

Going generic can save you a lot of money. According to the Association of Chain Drug Stores, the generic drugs are priced at $24 on average, while the average price of the branded drugs is almost $96..

Deal with your Doctor

Take the time to discuss the things with your doctor that he or she should know about your situation. This could in the long run, save you money. Don’t be shy to ask her or him about the possible alternatives that you can take. Ask about generic drugs and if they are a viable alternative to the branded drugs typically prescibed by doctors. If you are going to have surgery, discuss your scheduling options and if it is viable to shorten or mitigate any hospital stay. And most importantly, do as you are told. If your doctor advises you to quit your vice, quit it. If you are advised to be more active, then do it!

"Deal with your Doctor"

Medical expenses can really put a dent in your pocketbook. Especially those not covered by medical insurance. And heaven forbid you don’t have insurance. Use these tips to make wise decision with your medical expenses and more importantly, take care of your health.



**Kaiser Family Foundation

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