As healthcare costs continue to rise, many families are feeling the pinch of medical bills for routine care and emergencies. While you can certainly expect expenses in this area, there are several ways you can manage these costs and save money.

Focus on Good Health

The first way to manage healthcare costs is to promote your own good health. If you must, change your eating habits to cut back on sugar, fat and extra calories. Embrace healthy choices like lean meats, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, start or continue an exercise routine with both cardio training and muscle building, and try to work out several days a week. This will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Finally, quit smoking if necessary, and keep alcohol consumption to moderate levels.

Review Your Insurance Policy

Review your health insurance policy to make sure you have the coverage you need at the price you can afford. If you are not satisfied, meet with an insurance agent who can offer you quotes from multiple companies with multiple coverage levels, deductibles and premiums. Then choose the one that best fits your budget and your lifestyle. Also, check out the benefits your insurance company might offer and take advantage of them. Some companies provide discounts on gym memberships, for instance.

Start a Healthcare Savings Account

Sometimes unexpected events and costs can sneak up on you, but you can plan ahead for these by starting a healthcare savings account. Put aside a little money every month as you can afford, and reserve it for future medical expenses. Check with your employer about Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Care Savings Accounts (HSA) that may allow you to set aside part of each paycheck.

Watch for Prescription Deals

If you are on prescription medicine, check with your provider about discounts, coupons and less expensive options. Mail ordering your medication may save some money, but be sure you read all the fine print. You might also consider purchasing additional insurance coverage if medication costs are becoming a burden.

Choose Your Providers Carefully

If your insurance policy supports a network of providers, try to stay within that network to keep your costs down. Also, plan ahead about what you will do if you or a family member needs immediate care. There is a significant difference between the cost of an urgent care visit and an emergency room visit. If the situation seems life-threatening, certainly choose the latter. Otherwise, consider a visit to urgent care instead.

Healthcare costs will always be part of life, but you can at least keep them under control with some planning and effort.