Amber Eyerly, 32, ... made one cut for 2009 by signing up for a medical flexible spending account, which takes money, pre-tax, from each paycheck to spend on healthcare costs and reduces her taxable income. And when she read that, unlike trips to a specialist, visits to her primary care doctor don't require her to first pay down a health insurance deductible, Eyerly arranged to have her dermatology records for a minor skin condition sent to her primary care physician, who now writes prescriptions for any dermatology medicines the young executive needs.
"Millions of consumers are weighing their medical costs and trying to see what expenses they can jettison to save some money," says Cathy Tripp, a senior consultant in the Minneapolis office of benefits consulting firm Watson Wyatt. A Watson survey of 2,500 U.S. employees released this month found that 17% of those surveyed had avoided a recommended doctor's visit this year to save costs (the question was not asked in the firm's 2007 survey). And 17% did not fill a prescription or skipped doses of prescribed medicine, an increase from 13% in 2007.