It’s hard to justify the amount of money Americans spend on health care: $2.6 trillion per year—or about $8,233 per person, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s 60 percent more per person than Switzerland, the number two country in terms of health care spending.

We all feel it. When I left a full-time, staff position to go freelance, my health-care costs quadrupled. Then, in an effort to beat the Affordable Care Act to its rate-increase restriction of 10 percent, my insurance company raised my monthly rate by 57 percent this summer. And I’m healthy.

The one thing we can do to make ourselves feel better this time of year is to take advantage of our health benefits—every last one. Before the New Year, spend that Flexible Spending Account, head to the doctor’s office, and, if you’re a hospital worker, get that flu shot. What else should you take advantage of before January 1? According to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, now’s the time to pick up free eyeglasses and contacts, schedule your semi-annual dental cleanings, and even order a three-month prescription for the first few months of next year. The conclusion: Start spending before you lose it. You’ve more than earned it.

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