The Importance of Being Healthy
Being young doesn’t always correlate to being healthy, and the risks of going without medical care can outweigh the temporary cost savings.
• General health. Leaving a health issue untreated could lead to unnecessary pain, time missed at work and the potential for mild symptoms to become an advanced illness, costing you more in the long run.
• Dental. Putting off preventative dental care can lead to costly procedures and emergency medical care — neither of which is cheap.
• Mental. These are serious issues that need to be treated immediately. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America.
There is federal help available if you need healthcare but can’t afford it. Federally funded health centers provide care to all, regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. Services include checkups, immunizations, prenatal care, dental care and mental healthcare. Locate the closest federally funded health center at findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov. Beyond that, there are a few more things you can do to save money on medical expenses.
• Ask for generic drugs whenever possible.• Find out if your healthcare provider offers a discount when paying out-of-pocket. If not, see if you can negotiate a lower price for paying up-front.
• Before agreeing to treatment, ask the billing office if they provide payment plans.
• Take advantage of low-cost employer and student health clinics.
• Ask for an itemized bill and challenge any charges you’re not sure about.
• For non-life-threatening emergencies — such as broken bones, minor burns or mild asthma attacks — look for an urgent care center. The costs at these facilities will likely be much less than at an emergency room.
In Case of Emergencies
In an emergency, the need for healthcare trumps the burden of costs. Healthcare facilities must provide emergency care regardless of your ability to pay. The costs, however, will catch up eventually. When they do, it’s going to hurt.
High-deductible health insurance plans are one way to protect yourself from debt due to an emergency. The monthly premium will be low, but you’ll pay for most preventative care and office visits out-of-pocket until the deductible is met. It sounds more expensive, but here’s the thing: if you get hit by a bus or a similarly expensive medical emergency, the right plan (make sure the plan you choose will meet your needs) will cover your expenses beyond the deductible. This means avoiding thousands of dollars in medical debt.
An apple a day doesn’t always keep the doctor away. You may be able to avoid medical care for the sniffles or a sprained ankle, but eventually something will come along that needs to be treated. Be prepared, and know where to go to make the most of your limited healthcare funds.