Ways to save: Ask your doctor's office, local hospitals, and women's health centers about free and low-priced mammograms, Pap smears, and other recommended tests. Several national chain drugstores offer free drop-in screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
- If you have no health issues, cancel your annual physical. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends this practice. In 20 years of studying physicals, government researchers found that healthy people gain no benefit from annual visits. In fact, physicals can lead to unnecessary testing that has the potential to be both expensive and harmful.
- Slow down on Pap screens. Women over 30 who have had three consecutive healthy Pap smears can limit their tests to once every two to three years.
- Pass on unnecessary heart screens. Most people don't need heart disease tests for homocysteine, C-reactive protein, coronary calcium, and a blood fat called Lp(a), says Susan Bennett, MD, clinical director of the Women's Heart Program at George Washington University Hospital. These screens make sense only if you have a family history of early heart disease in the absence of the usual risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.