Don't give up yearly eye exams if you wear glasses or contact lenses or if you have a family history of eye disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Ways to save: If you don't fit into the above categories and you're younger than 65, you don't need annual checkups. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an eye exam once in your 20s, twice in your 30s, at age 40, and thereafter as needed.
Don't give up your first line of defense—brushing and flossing—which can save you big bucks by preventing gum disease and cavities. Studies show that professional teeth cleanings can't make up for neglect at home.
Ways to save: If you have no chronic dental conditions, try getting just one professional cleaning and scraping a year. A review of dental studies from researchers at the University of North Carolina and in the UK failed to establish an advantage in more frequent visits. Remarkably, the review couldn't detect a difference between getting a cleaning once every six months and once every two years.
- Ask your dentist about getting the old-fashioned, silver-colored amalgam for your fillings. These cost 20 to 30 percent less than newer, tooth-colored composite materials.
Don't give up going to the ER for allergic reactions, bone fractures, deep cuts or other injuries, heart attack and stroke symptoms, and anything else that seems life-threatening.
Ways to save: In noncritical situations where you can't wait until your doctor can see you—bladder infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, strep, and deer tick bites, for example—try one of the roughly 1,200 retail health clinics springing up in drugstores and at Walmart, Target, and other stores. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and in some cases MDs. Most insurers cover such visits (check with your plan before you need urgent care), and the co-pay will be less than you would shell out for an ER visit. Even if you don't have health insurance, the $40 to $70 fee may be less than your doctor's fee and is considerably cheaper than the typical cost of a trip to the emergency room.