1. Use over-the-counter (OTC) drugs if at all feasible.

Some medications that were once only available by prescription can now be found on store shelves. You must have a doctor’s prescription to use your health savings account for OTC drugs, but your costs can drop as much as 80 percent using OTCs.

  1. Research your illness, injury or condition.

Try visiting websites such as www.WebMD.com or www.MedlinePlus.com. It may sound simple, but consumers do not always think to explore what is ailing them. That way, unnecessary trips to the doctor can be avoided.

  1. Only visit the emergency room in an actual emergency situation.

Remember that your doctor’s office and urgent care are other appropriate options for conditions that are not life-threatening – and they are a lot more cost-effective

4. Beware of possible medical errors. Over 1 million medical errors occur in the U.S. every year, costing over $2 billion. In order to avoid error-prone facilities, make sure to select places that use “computerized order entry” of medications, which reduces serious prescribing errors by more than 50 percent. Also, research the best medical facilities in your area. If you go into a hospital for a high-risk procedure (such as open-heart surgery), choose one with plenty of experience and consistently good results.

5. Stay healthy!

Exercise, don’t smoke and make healthy eating choices – and be sure to use the preventive services (such as annual physicals) that are covered by your high-deductible health plan. All of these choices can result in preserving money in your HSA. The money you save carries over to the next year, earns investment income and is there to help pay for any future medical expenses.

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