Healthy and Frugal

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Fighting a stomach bug? Stay home and drink Gatorade or make your own rehydration solution using one teaspoon of salt, eight teaspoons of sugar, five cups of water and an optional half-cup of fruit juice.

Want a cheap way to banish those acne blemishes? Use an over-the-counter product with benzoyl peroxide, a tried-and-true, inexpensive acne treatment.

Need a wheelchair? Check out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores.

These are just a few of the no-nonsense, consumer-friendly tips offered by Akron, Ohio, family medicine specialist Dr. Cynthia Koelker in her new self-published book, "101 Ways to Save Money on Healthcare."

"I wrote this for the patient," Koelker said. "If people would take the time to look around, they would find a lot of things."

During 20 years in solo practice in Akron's Ellet neighborhood, Koelker has dispensed plenty of advice to patients looking to make their medical care more affordable.

So when she heard politicians on TV early last year talking about how they wanted to fix the nation's health-care system, she thought: "They're not going to save you any money. I can sit down and write 100 ways to save on health care."

About four months later, Koelker finished her book, complete with 101 cost-saving tips on everything from avoiding unnecessary doctor visits to getting rid of warts.

"Most of it is information I had already given patients over the years," she said. "It's all really practical. Pretty much the way I talk to my patients is how I wrote it."

Koelker established her own company, MD Books USA, to publish the book and contracted with BookMasters Inc. in Ashland, Ohio, to print and distribute the first-run edition of 3,000.

Koelker estimates she invested about $6,000 and close to 600 hours of research and writing time on the project.

She said she'd eventually like to print other books for consumers and, in fact, labels her first effort as part of "Dr. K's Practical Healthcare Series."

The book is full of tips about when to see a doctor and when maladies can be safely - and cheaply - treated at home.

Tip No. 43, for instance suggests readers not lose money seeing a doctor every time they lose their voice.

In addition, the publication features a list of trustworthy Web sites for health information, as well as sites offering coupons and discounts for prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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