Save money on your health care
Are you paying the price for staying healthy? Here are some top tips to help reduce the cost of your health bills.
This is an old lovemoney.com article that has been updated with the April 1st 2011 price changes.
When it comes to anything to do with health, there’s usually a hefty price tag attached. Whether you regularly pay for a prescription, or simply visit the dentist every six months, the costs always stack up.
So I’ve come up with some top tips to help lower your health costs.
If you regularly have to pay for a prescription -- say for example to treat your asthma -- you’ll be paying out £7.40 every time. It may not sound like a massive amount, but if you paid for a prescription every month, you’d end up forking out a whopping £88.80 each year.
So it’s worth finding out whether you are entitled to free prescriptions. You don’t have to pay if you fall under any of these categories:
- Are aged 60 or over
- Are under 16
- Are 16 - 18 and in full-time education
- Are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months.
- Have a listed medical condition and have a valid exemption certificate
- Are getting, or your partner gets, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, pension credit guarantee credit
You can see the full list of who’s entitled to free prescriptions here.
If you don’t qualify for this, there is another way you could save money on your prescriptions. Providing you pay for more than four prescription items in three months, or more than 15items in 12 months, you could save money through buying a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC).
You can buy either a three month PPC for £29.10 or a 12 month PPC for £104. All of your prescriptions will then be covered during this period. If you opt for the 12 month PPC, you can pay by direct debit over 10 monthly installments.
So say you usually paid for two prescriptions each month. Without a PPC, you’d end up paying out £177.60 over the space of a year. But if you bought a 12 month PPC, you’d pay just £104, saving you £73.60. Not bad!
Of course the amount you save will ultimately depend on how often you pay for a prescription. But it’s certainly a great way to save some cash if you do need regular prescriptions.
What's more, you can back date these certificates by up to a month and reclaim individual prescription costs within that period. Or if you have to shell out for a prescription while waiting for your certificate, you can claim back this cost for up to three months after paying it.
You can apply for a PPC by completing a form at your doctor’s surgery or pharmacy or online.
Even if you are prescribed a medicine from your doctor, sometimes you’ll find it’s cheaper to buy it over the counter. Your doctor or pharmacist may be kind enough to tell you this, but it’s always worth checking anyway.
For ailments such as colds, headaches and stomach problems, many of us are often tempted to purchase branded products, believing they will be more effective. But this usually ends up costing us more money.
For example, if you wanted to buy paracetamol at Boots, it would cost you £2.03 if you went for the branded Anadin version (16 tablets), but just 36p if you went for Boots’ own version (16 tablets). Discount shops such as Wilkinsons are likely to be even cheaper -- Wilkinson’s own brand paracetamol costs just 15p for 16 tablets.
If you feel uncomfortable about buying generic (unbranded) drugs of this sort, there’s really no need to as they are clinically identical and you’re just wasting money. For more on this read Save Money On Medicines.
Regular visits to the dentist can be very costly. Just a check-up can set you back around £17 a time, but if you need extra treatment you can end up forking out up to £204.
Similar to prescriptions, some people will qualify for free NHS dental treatment. This includes if you are under 18, are 18 and in full-time education, if you’re pregnant, or have had a baby in the 12 months before treatment starts, or if you receive certain benefits. (You can see the full list here).
But if you don’t qualify for free treatment, it’s worth finding out whether your employer pays towards private dental treatment for employees. Even if it doesn't, given that NHS dentists are becoming harder to come by -- particularly ones taking on new patients -- you might want to consider private dental care yourself anyway. Many private dentists offer their patients dental plans through which you pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of your treatment.
How much you pay will depend on the state of your teeth. If your teeth are shiny whites, you’ll pay less, but if they need some serious looking after, you’ll pay more. The amount you pay will generally cover all dental examinations, hygiene treatment and x-rays, with some throwing in fillings, crowns and dentures for good measure. More specialist treatment won’t be included however.
Ultimately it’s up to you to work out whether it’s good value to take advantage of one of these schemes or not. In some cases it will save you money, but if your teeth are in perfect condition and you rarely have to see a dentist, you’ll be throwing money down the drain. You might find it works out better to put a sum of money into a savings account each month instead -- then if you need any treatment, you’ll have that to fall back on.
For more tips on cheaper dental treatment read How To Get Cheaper Dental Treatment.
Many employers will pay for you to have your eyes tested -- particularly if you work in an office and sit in front of a computer all day. So it’s worth checking whether your employer will do this. What’s more, some employers may help towards the cost of your glasses if you need them.
It’s also worth finding out whether you qualify for discounts at particular opticians. Specsavers, for example, offers a 25% discount to anyone over 60, as well as students. It also offers 2 for 1 on a range of glasses from £69.
What’s more, if you get your eyes tested at a particular opticians, don’t feel obliged to buy your glasses from there. By law, they must give you a copy of your prescription and it’s worth looking around to see whether you can a get a better deal elsewhere. And don’t forget that it’s always worth trying to negotiate a little to see whether the optician is willing to give you an extra discount!
Finally, shopping for glasses online can be cheaper than buying them on the high street. Websites such as eyeexperts.co.uk, glasses2you.com and glassesdirect.co.uk are currently offering glasses from just £15! For further tips on this, read Cut The Cost Of Your Glasses By 63%!
Paying to look after yourself can be costly, but hopefully by following these tips, both you and your bank balance will be a little healthier! And don’t forget, if you have any other ideas, you can post them in the comments box below!