Dear Heloise:

I work in our local hospital in registration.

Many people come to the hospital without identification or insurance cards. Identification is important because it helps us do our jobs more efficiently and makes the claims processing easier for both the hospital and the patient.

So the tip I have to share is this: Make a copy of all your information, your spouse's, your children's and your parents'. Have their full names (not nicknames), their dates of birth, Social Security numbers, insurance cards or Medicare/ Medicaid cards and driver's licenses. Always carry your insurance card or a copy of it.

If someone happens to be admitted to the hospital, many insurance companies require you to call within 24 hours of the admittance -- if you don't, they will penalize you.

Leatha, via e-mail

All good advice, but I'd be hesitant to suggest people carry all of this personal information all of the time! Take it only if you go to check into the hospital.

Dear Heloise:

Here's something I do to save a little money and help the environment: I keep an empty plastic glass near my bathroom faucet. After I turn on the warm water, I put the glass under the tap and fill it as I'm waiting for the water to heat up. I'll then pour the water into plants that are thirsty or down the sink to wash away soap scum.

Mark Cohen

Washington

Dear Heloise:

My husband often buys a bouquet of cut flowers for our home, and usually there is no baby's breath or white filler.

He bought a couple of plastic sprays of tiny white blossoms to use (and reuse). They add so much interest, plus they look real and remain white.

Mary, Peoria, Ill.

Terrific hint, and a money-saver, too. They look so real that no one will ever know they are plastic. Another thing you can do is buy statice -- clusters of tiny, white, strawlike blossoms that dry beautifully. They can be inserted into a vase with fresh flowers and be reused again.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate