Pay $0 for $1,000 worth of services:
Get your preventive care!

The savings add up when you're not spending your hard-earned money on medical expenses.

A great way to save money is to stay healthy, and using the free preventive services covered by your plan is a step in the right direction. Did you know that, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, preventive services must be covered by health insurance? This means that, in most cases, these services will be completely free to you; you won't have to pay a thing out of pocket. Preventive health care is intended to keep you healthy and ultimately reduce or eliminate costly health care bills down the line.

Here's how you can take advantage of free benefits and avoid the budget-busting costs that come with getting sick.

Get a flu shot: Save $200 to $575 plus another $100 for treatment

What's free? Your annual flu shot won’t cost you a dime.

The cost of being sick: The average bout with the flu will keep you home from work for three days. What you lose depends on your income. If you earn minimum wage, it will cost you about $200. And if you earn $50,000 per year, your paycheck could be reduced $575 unless your company offers sick days.

Plus, if you go see your doctor, you could pay up to $100 for Tamiflu®, a common anti-viral medication, in addition to your office visit co-pay.

Have a tetanus booster: Save $65 plus the cost of an urgent care visit

What's free? A tetanus vaccine booster (shot) every 10 years.

The cost of skipping the booster: The worst-case scenario is that you could get tetanus, a serious bacterial disease that affects your nervous system and can even lead to death.

The more likely situation is that you won't think about tetanus until you've stepped on a rusty nail or you're bitten by a dog. Then it's off to the urgent care center or your doctor's office for a tetanus shot. At this point, it's too late to be covered as preventive care, so you could pay about $65 for the injection.

Plus, you’ll be responsible for your urgent care or doctor visit co-pay. Worse yet, if you have a high deductible plan and go to the emergency department, your bill could total more than $1,000.

Get screened for colorectal cancer: Save $1,200 to $3,000 (plus another $50,000+)

What's free? If you're between ages 50 and 75, Priority Health will pay for a screening at no charge as long as you don't have any colon cancer symptoms.

When you'll pay: If you wait until you have a change in bowel habits, bleeding or other symptoms, your colonoscopy will be "diagnostic" instead of preventive. At this point, you'll be responsible for your deductible and coinsurance or a copayment.

Surprisingly, the cost of having a colonoscopy with a biopsy depends on where the test is performed. Some hospitals and medical centers charge about $1,200 while others charge $3,000 or more for the same procedure. But, because you have coverage through Priority Health, you can make a smart choice by using our Cost Estimator tool to comparison shop. Your actual costs will depend on your insurance plan.

Remember, whether you're symptom-free or have concerns, a colonoscopy makes sense for both your health and your finances. Catching colon cancer early increases your chance of survival to 90% and reduces the cost of treatment, which typically tops $50,000 in the first year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Kick the tobacco habit: Save nearly $3,000 per year (and accumulate $165,600 for retirement)

What's free? Up to 6 months of nicotine replacement or tobacco cessation products. All the more reason to start quitting today.

Tobacco and your wallet: In Michigan, the average pack of cigarettes costs $8, so your pack-a-day habit is costing you almost $3,000 per year. According to The Motley Fool, if you put that into a retirement account for 20 years, you'd accumulate up to $165,600.

Worse yet, if you get lung cancer or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD), your medical expenses will skyrocket as you battle for your life. The average cost (before insurance) for lung cancer treatment is about $46,000 and cost of managing COPD adds up quickly, depending on treatments and potential hospitalization costs.

Looking for more ways to save? 

Check our Preventive Health Care Guidelines to see what's covered at no cost to you.

Interested in reading more articles like this? Visit ThinkHealth.