What If I Can't Afford Health Care?
One area that many people cut back on is healthcare costs. If you are struggling to keep a roof over your head, and food on the table, you may skip health insurance. While on paper it may not make a lot of sense to pay a monthly health insurance premium when you are struggling to pay your bills, it can be dangerous to go without any health insurance. Medical emergencies can happen at any age, and they are expensive. You may end up owing a lot of money for several years. It is important to plan a way to pay for your healthcare costs through insurance and careful planning.
Additionally, you may face penalties under the Affordable Care Act if you choose not to have health insurance.
Health Insurance Options
If you are struggling to find health insurance your can afford each month, look into getting a high deductible plan. This plan will cover the catastrophic events that may bankrupt you. The deductibles range from $1,000 to around $5,000 per person. Some policies may go higher. However, once you reach the deductible the coverage will kick in and cover everything else. It is a lot easier to pay off the $1,000 then it would be to pay off the $30,000 or $40,000 surgery. If you have an extended hospital stay, it can add up even more quickly.
The premiums on this type of insurance are much more affordable.
Often the most affordable option is the plan offered by your employer. Sometimes you may be able to find a more affordable option by looking for health insurance on your own. This may apply more to your dependents. It does not hurt to shop around to find the most affordable health insurance policy. As you do this be sure that it meets the requirements set forth by the Affordable Care Act.
What About Visiting the Doctor and Other Medical Costs?
Even with health insurance, you may find it difficult to cover your out-of-pocket costs on your insurance. For example if you need an MRI done you may have to pay for your deductible and then the coinsurance costs, which mean the test may run several hundred dollars or more. It can be frustrating when you are paying for insurance each month, but then you still cannot afford to go to the doctor. Since many of the tests and procedures are used to help catch an illness before it becomes too serious, choosing to opt out of the tests may be a dangerous option in the long run.
It can be overwhelming to deal with medical bills when you are barely making ends meet. There are some things you can do to reduce the amount you pay.
You can shop around for the hospitals, doctors and clinics that cost less. It will take some time on the phone, but the difference in prices between the urgent cares in your area may really surprise you. Additionally, you may be able to find lower rates at different hospitals and testing facilities. If you have insurance, you may want to contact them to see where you can get the lowest rates, even if you are in the network you may be able to save money by choosing one hospital over another one. Many people do not realize that you can be a smart consumer when it comes to medical procedures and just go where their doctors tell them to, but you can shop around for the best deals.
Set Up a Payment Plan
Many hospitals and clinics are willing to set up a payment plan to allow you to get the tests when you need it and then you will make a monthly payment to cover the deductible. This can be a difficult situation, because you may find that you need to set up multiple payment plans and the costs can add up quickly. While a payment plan gives you a quick solution, work on saving up the amount that you need to cover your deductible each year in an emergency fund.
Regular Check Ups
You can save on your medical costs by doing your regular check ups and taking care of little illnesses before they become big. If you start to feel sick, you should take the time to get treated so you do not end up being hospitalized with pneumonia or require surgery for a minor injury if you had gotten the proper care. Regular check ups will help you to stay healthy and keep you from running up large medical bills in the future. You can also work on staying healthy through exercise and a good diet.
These smaller steps will pay off in later years as well.
Look at Free Clinics
If you are truly broke, and you need medical care, you should get it. Many cities offer free clinics or clinics that offer sliding scale fees based on your income. You can also work out a payment plan with most doctors’ offices and hospitals. While health insurance should reduce the amount you pay, you should get the care. You will pay less if you go to a doctor as opposed to an urgent care or hospital. If you have a chronic medical condition, you may automatically qualify for help with your bills through Medicaid.
Contact a social worker through the hospital or your county to see if you can get more help.