Report: Many making risky moves to cut med costs

A new survey from Consumer Reports shows 48 percent of Americans are trimming their medical costs by delaying doctor's visits and procedures or ordering cheaper drugs from outside the U.S.

So how can people stretch the money they put toward healthcare better to make sure they appropriate enough for all the things they need?

CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton noted on "The Early Show" that staying healthy matters not just for your health, but your pocketbook. "Not ony does your life depend on it, but your finances do, as well," she said.

In situations where chronic diseases are present, such as heart disease or cancer, Ashton said there are organizations that can help with patient support services and coupons.

"You want to speak up, talk to your doctor, ask them about whether these things are available, and share your concerns. Be honest," she said.

Ashton, noting Consumer Reports statistics, said 49 percent of Americans are on prescription drugs. Those people take, on average 4.5 medications each.

Ashton said, "For people who are having trouble getting those medications, you want to ask your doctor if a generic is available, plan ahead for both medical and financial emergencies, and if you are having trouble, whatever you do, do not modify that regimen by yourself. People are cutting down on medications, using expired medications -- that can be very dangerous. Speak up. Help may be available."

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill said, "Even ordering from overseas, would you say that can be dangerous, too, because you can never be sure what you're getting?"

Ashton said, "Absolutely correct."

Drug shortages, too, may be an issue, Ashton said. She advised, "Ask your doctor ahead of time, 'What if my drug is unavailable,' so you're not caught behind the eight ball."

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