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Does it ever seem like escalating healthcare costs are putting the squeeze on your already tight budget? The effect is subtle and you don’t always feel it right away. Prescription costs increase but it feels manageable. Co-pays rise a little more but you make it work. Meeting your deductible moves just a little further out from what you’re now paying. These tactics can help you fight back. Why choose between having more to spend on clothes, utilities or enjoying yourself, if you don’t have to, right?

Don’t settle for high prescription costs

There’s actually a lot that you can do to fight climbing prescription costs. Firstly, if you’ve been prescribed the name brand version of a drug, ask about the generic alternative. Once you have begun taking the drug, be sure that you understand how long you’ll need to take it for so that you don’t wind up using the drug — and paying the costs — for longer than you should be.

There are also a number of things you can do to fight costs at the pharmacy check-in counter. First, ask the pharmacist what the non-insurance based price of your drugs will be. It may surprise you, but sometimes these costs are actually lower than your insurance co-pay. You can also ask your pharmacist if there any current coupons, pharmacy-specific discount programs, or lower pricing for customers who pay cash. Lastly, don’t shy away from using healthcare apps like GoodRx to compare pharmacy costs and gain access to prescription coupons. Although they may seem small, these discounts can go a long way to helping you save money on medical expenses.

Save money on both routine and emergency procedures

Another factor that can slowly inflate your medical costs is the price of routine tests. To help in this area, consider using telemedicine options to connect with a physician. This approach can be less expensive but can offer a convenient, competent level of care. A second strategy for managing costs is to attend your local community health fair. They can provide a range of free services including blood pressure screenings, cardiac and diabetes risk assessments, foot care and memory evaluations. Many health fairs also offer other kinds of paid screenings at a reasonable cost. If you do take this route, be sure to get copies of all your results to keep it on file at home and provide to your physician.

Emergency procedures can also put a dent in your healthcare budget if you’re not careful. If you need medical attention and your regular physician isn’t available, walk-in medical clinics can provide an affordable alternative to other care. If you need more intensive care, be clear on if you are going to an emergency room or an urgent care facility and what your insurance will cover for each type of location. While you are being treated, don’t be afraid to question each piece of care offered so that you are clear on the impact it will make on your final bill.

Avoid equipment rental charges

There are lots of free community services that offer no-cost lending for medical items like wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches. How do these services work?  Generally, they receive gently-used items from people who no longer need them. Rental fees for these items can add up, so if you need them it is worth an online search to see what might be available in your area.

Watch medical bills closely

When you receive your medical bills check them carefully. You’ve worked hard to be sure you’re getting the best cost for everything and these rates should be reflected on your bill. If they’re not, follow up with your insurance company. Be prepared to be persistent and to show your documentation as needed. This will help reap the rewards from your efforts to lower medical costs and use that money to enjoy the rest of your life.