Medical care is one of the most unpredictable and financially destructive expenses in our lives. The cost of even a brief hospitalization can run into the thousands. For those with poor or no insurance, it can be crippling. That's why medical bills are the main cause for bankruptcy in the US.
Fortunately, there is a certain amount that can be done about that. It's true that many injuries and even certain illnesses are totally unavoidable, but a combination of good consumer habits and good health habits can go a long way toward keeping your medical expenses under control.
Find Ways To Save
The most obvious solution is to find ways to spend less on whatever medical care you need. Don't just go to the closest drug store or the one with the best TV commercials. Instead, try to find a pharmacy with loyalty programs, coupons, or other discount options.
At first, that may seem impossible; if you have insurance, your copays at the doctor and pharmacy will be the same wherever you go. But remember the hidden costs of care. The extra gas you use driving to and from your caregiver adds up. You may have to pay for parking, cab fare, or bus transit. Extra products like over-the-counter medication can add to the cost as well. And the facility's hours may not accommodate your work schedule, forcing you to miss wages to get there on time.
The more you spend on these side items, the harder it will be for you to pay the medical bills themselves when they come through.
Visiting The Appropriate Caregiver
While any of a number of doctors or other practitioners can take care of your minor ailments and injuries, the locations and circumstances can vary, with a significant difference in cost.
The most important rule of health care is to avoid the ER. All over the world, these critical facilities are swamped with non-emergency cases that clutter up their waiting rooms and exam spaces, making it tougher for those who need urgent care to get it–and making it take absolutely forever for the minor cases to go through.
If you experience chest pain, signs of a stroke, or severe pain of any kind, the ER is meant for you. If you just have a sore throat or a fever, it is not meant for you. But by all means, if you are in doubt as to whether your condition is serious, go to the ER. Just make sure that you consider the potential seriousness of your situation before going.
The simplest way to avoid medical costs is not to have any. There are things we can't help, of course; some conditions are unavoidable. We know there are genes that increase your risk of cancer and many other diseases.
But chronic conditions triggered by lifestyle can most certainly be controlled. A poor diet and a lack of exercise can be held responsible for everything from heart attacks to diabetes. Smoking can cause emphysema, cancer, and many other conditions.
Take control of your health. Get active and eat right. Quit smoking. Reduce the stress in your life by finding ways to get a handle on paying off debts faster. If you have chronic conditions, follow your doctor's orders for controlling them. Do everything you can to avoid sickness.
The cost of medical care is high, because the quality is high. What modern doctors and hospitals can do is astounding in its ability to save lives. The only downside is the potential for considerable expense to the patient. For that reason, you should do everything you can to minimize your health problems so that you can stay in control of the resulting costs.
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