The fact that health care costs are rising is undeniable. It can make you feel rather helpless, in fact, as you consider how pricey everything is, from a check-up to cancer treatments. But there are ways you can reduce health care costs, both in your own family and in general society. Here are some tips.

Emergency Room Is for Emergencies

Some families do not have a “family doctor” or physician whom they turn to when a family member is sick with a non-life-threatening illness. So when someone in the family has a cold, or vague symptoms of any sort, or even a mild accident, they go to the emergency room. ERs across the country are clogged with non-emergency demands of this nature. Repetitive use of the ER has become such a bad problem that some areas of the country have enacted laws to crack down on the practice.

The ER is for a situation where it’s a true emergency or suspected emergency, such as difficulty breathing, signs of a stroke, or a severe accident. Going to a local clinic or doctor is a more effective way to treat non-emergency illnesses in the family. It saves costs for everyone.

Cost Compare

Do you actually know what a doctor or hospital charges for a particular procedure? Many of us have forgotten the consumer role we have in purchasing our own health care. Before you have a procedure done, call around and find out what various hospitals and/or doctors charge for it. Even something like x-rays can vary significantly in cost, as can more advanced procedures like CAT scans.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s amazing how often we overlook the connection between our personal lifestyle practices and our health, and then further overlook the connection between our lifestyle practices and the costs of health care. But the simple truth is, if your family takes care of themselves by eating right and exercising, the chances of a severe illness setting in are greatly reduced.

Taking vitamins may also help keep illnesses at bay, from the common cold to depression. Eating healthy fats and focusing mainly on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins can go a long way toward keeping your family healthy. Embark on a family fitness program to boost everyone’s health and reduce costs even more.

Don’t Smoke

If you do smoke, quitting is a victory both for you and for the overburdened, economically-strapped health care system. Even better, don’t start!