Use these smart strategies to budget and save money on shopping, health care, travel, and more.
By Celia Shatzman
In 2009 the average American family spent more than $1,400 out-of-pocket on medical bills. More important: Nine out of 10 health-care bills contain errors. Next time you receive a statement, visit medicalcostadvocate.com. The free site gets money back for about 85 percent of customers by negotiating on the patient's behalf. Derek Fitteron, CEO of Medical Cost Advocate, explains how to check your health-care bills for accuracy.
—Always request an itemized statement from your provider to scan for redundant charges. If there are any unidentified or miscellaneous amounts, ask for the complete details.
—Make sure all of the procedures listed were actually done.
—If a price seems particularly high, research the average cost. A good place to start is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid site, cms.gov (although it lists the lowest prices). If you think you've been overcharged, you may be able to bring the amount down.
—To see if your medical and dental expenditures qualify you for a tax deduction, track your expenses at changehealthcare.com. When you reach 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, the site automatically sends you a report to help you fill out your taxes.