10 smart moves to save on health care

Question procedures beforehand

When doctors perform procedures or authorize tests that might be unnecessary, you could face unneeded costs and be exposed to unwarranted health risks.

The doctor-patient lists at ChoosingWisely.org can help you become a more informed medical consumer.

The site covers dozens of scenarios, explaining when certain procedures, tests and medications are necessary and when they aren’t.

Suppose your doctor recommends an MRI to help diagnose your lower back pain. This test typically costs $880 to $1,230 and exposes you to radiation.

ChoosingWisely.org says you should skip this procedure if the onset of pain is recent because most lower back pain resolves itself within a month.

What’s more, the site says patients who had a lower back MRI were eight times more likely to have back surgery. The result: Recovery was no faster, but medical costs increased five-fold.

Ask about the reason for any test or procedure before it’s performed, and understand that you can always refuse.