Are you spending too much on prescriptions, contact lenses or gym membership? Staying healthy might seem expensive, but there are lots of great money-saving tips to help you spend less without compromising on your health.
Are you spending too much on medicine prescriptions, contact lenses or gym membership? Staying healthy might seem as though it has to cost a lot, but the reality is there are lots of great money-saving tips to help you spend less without compromising on your health. Read our tips, from how to reduce your medicine costs to making homemade cold remedies so you can save money on your essential health needs.
If you need lots of medicines, you could be spending a small fortune at £7.85 a pop, unless you’re exempt from paying e.g. over 60, pregnant, have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx) or live in Scotland. However, you can buy a prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) in England which will save you money.
A three-monthly PPC costs £29.10 and is worth it if you need four or more items in three months while a 12-month certificate cost £104 and will save you money if you need 14 or more items in 12 months. You can pay via 10 monthly direct debit instalment payments and it means you will get all the prescriptions needed for £2 per week.
You can find out more about this at nhs.uk or call 0300 330 1341.
When it comes to painkillers, what matters are the active ingredients. However, we often pay more for branding, packaging and the advertising that goes with that. In many cases, the active ingredients in branded pills are identical to the big brands - and half the price. If you want to be sure, check the product license numbers on the pack. They can often be the same, which means it's the same product. Even if you’re convinced your branded pills are better, at least try chemist-own or supermarket painkillers and other medicines. You may find they work just as well...
As with many things now, buying online can be a real money-saver. It depends on individual opticians and the deals they have at any given time, but as a general rule, buying your lenses online offers significant savings. You will still have to go for your sight test and contact lens check-up at an opticians but you can then email your prescription to an online lens specialist and order from there.
Prices vary depending on the type of contact lenses you wear (daily, monthly etc) and also on the brand, but websites worth looking at include getlenses.co.uk, welovelenses.com, contactlenses.co.uk and asda-contact-lenses.co.uk.
You can also pick up cleaning solutions online although one of the cheapest products around is Asda’s All-in-one solution (360ml) for £4.98.
Don’t waste money on products which promise to get rid of your sore throat – you can make your own. All you need is honey, fresh lemon and own-brand Paracetamol. Just squeeze a lemon into hot water and add a few spoons of honey. You can take a couple of painkillers afterwards too for the full effect.
Honey works wonders because it traps bacteria and makes it difficult for them to move about. Lemon is packed with vitamin C and because it stimulates saliva, makes swallowing less painful. You can even just mix lemon juice with honey and lick it off the spoon!
Inhaling steam is one of the oldest, most effective ways of clearing a bunged-up nose and relieving congestion. You can buy a small pot of menthol crystals for under £2 from your local chemist – you only need to add a tiny amount as they are concentrated so very strong. Just cover it with a towel to trap the steam, get underneath it and inhale. It’s cheaper than Vicks and other products and just as effective.
Menthol crystals also work well for aeroplane ear’ - if your ears hurt while flying, just ask the crew for a cup of hot water, dissolve a few of your crystals and inhale (it helps to unblock the Eustachian tube where pressure builds up!)
Sometimes, you may be prescribed a painkiller or cream which is actually available over-the-counter, often saving a significant amount – especially given the rise in prescription costs to £7.85 from April 2013. It depends on how much of the medicine you need – a bulk prescription can be cheaper if you need vast quantities. Hydrocortisone and aqueous are among those which are far cheaper bought directly.
You can also ask your pharmacist if there is an alternative to the prescribed medicine that is cheaper although it depends on how severe or chronic your problem is as you may not want to, or be recommended, to use a substitute.
Unless you qualify for free sight tests (they are free in Scotland for everyone), you will have to pay for any eye tests. You may already know they’re free for under 16s, over 60, on Income Support, but you are also eligible if you are have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma, you’re 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma or you’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) that you’re at risk of glaucoma. For a full list of those who are entitled to a free eye test, check nhs.uk.
However, you can also get free eye tests on the high street. Tesco Opticians offer free sight tests (no obligation to buy glasses or lenses there) and Boots and other major opticians sometimes have vouchers or place adverts in magazines and newspapers offering free sight tests so it’s worth looking out for those.
You may have noticed an increase in outdoor gyms in a designated area of your local park with a range of equipment such as exercise bikes, high bars and cross trainers, usually aimed for adults. These outdoor exercise areas are designed to remove the two main barriers which some people face when it comes to going to the gym - cost and getting there. With gym memberships often pricey, or not easy to get to, these al fresco gyms are a great way of exercising so if you have one near you, get fit for free.
Photo credit: The Great Outdoor Gym Company - www.tgogc.com
Dental charges vary depending on what treatment you need but are broadly split into 3 bands. Band 1costs £18 and covers examination, diagnosis (e.g. X-rays), advice and scale and polish if needed. Band 2 costs £49 and includes the above plus fillings, root canal work or any teeth extraction. Band 3 costs £214 and covers Band 1 and 2 plus crowns, dentures and bridges. To find out if you’re exempt from these costs, visit nhs.uk/nhsengland
If you’re not exempt from costs, there are various options. Dental insurance or private medical insurance can work out well if you have serious dental problems, as they will cover a certain percentage of your treatment but you must read policies carefully. To cut down on Band 1 check-ups, invest in an electric toothbrush to keep your teeth in good condition. As with many health issues, prevention is cheaper than cure so brush your teeth regularly and eat healthily to avoid avoidable treatment.
Suffering from mouth ulcers or a blocked sinus? It’s tempting to go and buy specialist products from the pharmacist but you can make your own salt gargle/saline solution by bringing water to a boil, mixing salt into it until it dissolves then letting the saline mixture cool before placing in a clean covered jar or bottle.Some people add baking soda to the salt. You can also use this solution to clean a wound.