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5 ways to save on health care if you don’t have insurance

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Have questions about open enrollment on the ACA health insurance marketplace? We’re here to help. Submit your questions to MONEYQUESTIONS@YAHOO.COM and they may be answered by our experts in an upcoming Yahoo Finance Facebook Live Chat.

If you’re not covered by health insurance or have a plan with a high deductible that makes regular medical care expensive, here are five affordable ways to find the care you need.

TIP 1: Take advantage of free care

Your employer may offer things like flu shots, blood pressure tests and other preventative screenings for free. Talk to your company’s HR department to see what types of care are offered. Pharmacies also offer free flu shots before flu season kicks in if you show your insurance card.

You can also visit your local health clinic if you have no insurance and can’t afford care. What you’ll pay depends on your income. Visit Healthcare.gov to find a clinic in your neighborhood.

If you do have insurance, many of these services are offered for free with your plan. So even if you have a high-deductible and want to to avoid paying out of pocket for medical care unless you really need it, study your plan for what’s included.

TIP 2: Try LivingSocial or Groupon

Visit coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to find deep discounts on medical care. Teeth cleanings, dental X-rays, chiropractic treatments, medical massages, and many other services can be found for much cheaper, and you don’t need insurance to purchase a deal. Businesses often use these websites to grow their clientele, and in return, you get affordable care!

TIP 3: Use a training school for discounts

Clinics at medical, dental and chiropractic schools may offer free or discounted care. Students perform care as part of their training, and any procedures are overseen by instructors and trained staff.

You can find clinics and schools that offer dental care by searching the American Student Dental Association. Many medical schools have Student Run Free Clinics (SRFCs) which are staffed with volunteer medical students and offer free care to underserved communities.

TIP 4: Avoid the ER

For non-life-threatening injuries, visit an urgent care center instead of the emergency room. Data from Blue Cross Blue Shield found 63% of visits to the ER aren’t life-threatening, and can be treated at an urgent care center for a fraction of the cost. While the average visit to an ER is $1,900, urgent care centers cost between $50-$150 a visit.

Urgent care centers can treat allergic reactions, injuries like cuts and burns, take X-rays and run blood tests. Your visit will be faster—and your bill much smaller.

TIP 5: Go generic

Generic drugs are much cheaper than name-brand versions. The Food and Drug Administration found 8 out of 10 prescriptions are filled using generic drugs and cost 85% less than the name-brand version. But make sure to shop around to find the cheapest price: Consumer Reports found drug costs could be ten times more expensive at one retailer compared to another.

Finding affordable or free health care may take some time and research, but it will be worth it when you’re saving lots of cash.

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