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Experts Suggest Ways To Save On Health Care, Prescriptions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Health care costs are expected to rise this year from prescription drugs to co-pays, but you can save and even get care for free with just a few easy methods.

As CBS 2's Kristine Johnson reported, the savings will be much welcome for many who are shelling out a lot for health care.

"Last year, I paid almost $3,000 out of pocket," said Emma Wright of the Bronx.

Wright said her prescription medications for diabetes and heart disease cost a small fortune.

"I get Social Security, so you know," she said.

This year, Wright and the rest of us can expect to pay even more for prescriptions -- and that's not all.

"The Affordable Health Care Act went through, and basically what that's going to do for some insurers is raise the premiums," said Good Housekeeping consumer expert Carmen Wong Ulrich.

Experts said the act could raise the premiums as much as 9 percent.

"Either I'm going to have to apply for help, or my children will have to pitch in more than they already do," Wright said.

But help is available now, and all you have to do is know where to look for it.

"If you get your insurance through your employer, you can change the plan of coverage that you have," Ulrich said.

One option is to go for a flexible spending account.

"This is 30 percent or more savings; pre-tax money that you get to put aside to pay for all those health care costs," Ulrich said.

When it comes to prescriptions, Ulrich says buy online and save.

"You want to look at discounts for enrolling into a 90 day refill program," she said.

Sites such as offer up to 40 percent off on common prescriptions, depending on your household income. For free prescription medications, check out the site partnership for prescription assistance.

There is even a site that can help you find discount dental procedures, called

And if you can't afford to go to the hospital, you need to know about the Hill-Burton program that can help find a hospital near you that's federally subsidized to offer free care.

"Ask what if I paid you cash, what would you do then?" Ulrich said.

Experts say always negotiate medical bills. If you can't do it yourself, they say, there are people who can help you.

"What happens a lot of times is that the insurance company tries to find a way to hold the money and deny the claims," said MedWise Insurance Advocacy president Adria Gross.

Gross said she has helped many a client save thousands on denied claims.

"Being on both ends, I know exactly what to do and what to say to the insurance company to possibly get them to pay for the claim," she said.

Also, experts say you shouldn't overlook tax deductions, and you should check to see if your medical and dental bills add up to more than 7.5 percent of your gross income.

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