It’s no secret that taking care of your health can be an expensive task. Even with a health plan, you and your family can incur exorbitant medical costs. In fact, the US Department of Health reports that millions of Americans pay as much as 18 percent of their household income on out-of-pocket health care costs.But there are numerous strategies you can take to lower your medical bills while still receiving the care you and your family need. Here are five easy ways to save money on your medical expenses.

Take preventative measures

It may sound obvious, but the single most effective way to save on health care costs is to stay as healthy as possible. Your first step towards achieving this should be to maintain a healthy weight, cut out harmful habits like smoking, and exercise regularly. Eating a healthy and balanced diet will also help improve your health and ward off costly medical conditions.

Aside from these lifestyle changes, there is also a range of preventative measures you can take to keep you feeling healthy. Regular checkups from your doctor and dentist are imperative to preventing serious conditions from developing. You should also take extra care to stay warm and avoid bacteria during the colder winter months.

Shop around

Selecting the right health plan can potentially save you thousands on health care costs, so it’s important to choose carefully and shop around for the best deal. Remember not to select you plan based solely on price, as a cheaper plan may not cover you for all eventualities. Be aware that health needs change, and the cover you and your family need now may not be the same in a year’s time. You may also be able to reduce medication bills by shopping around and purchasing the cheaper generic brands whenever possible.

Get to know your coverage

By learning exactly which procedures and medications are covered by your health insurer, you can get the most value out of your health care plan. If vitamin supplements, check-ups and consultations are covered, be sure to take avail of them regularly to avoid developing serious medical conditions. It’s important to read your plan carefully, as it may cover extra perks and services that you haven’t heard about, such as gym memberships, holistic therapies and weight-loss programs.

Health Saving Account

If you wish to pay less for your health insurance, you might consider choosing a high-deductible health plan. Although the premiums will be significantly lower, this plan will only cover medical costs over a certain amount, leaving you to foot the smaller bills. One of the main benefits of choosing a high-deductible health plan is that you may also qualify for a health savings account. You or your employer can then fund this account with tax free dollars, to be used towards medical expenses. Keep in mind, however, that the government sets an annual limit on the amount that can be placed into a health savings account.