If you are a young adult, one of your financial priorities should be to obtain health insurance, since one medical emergency or serious illness could be financially devastating. However, if you simply can’t afford to purchase health insurance, there are ways to save on health care costs, including the following.
Skip the Emergency Room. Unless you are faced with a life-threatening medical emergency, try to avoid going to the emergency room, for two reasons: it is very expensive and, for non-emergency problems, you could have to wait hours to see a doctor.
Check Out Walk-In Retail Clinics. For run-on-the-mill health issues, such a bad case of the flu, strep throat, or a suspected urinary tract infection, go to a walk-in retail clinic, such as those now found in many drug stores. The advantages of retail clinics include far lower prices than at emergency rooms or urgent care facilities, posted prices (in some cases, you can find the prices on the internet) so that you know upfront what the charge will be, and, most likely, far quicker service than at the emergency room. At a retail clinic, you will probably see a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.
Consider an Urgent Care Clinic. For more serious medical issues, try an urgent care facility. Prices are higher at urgent care clinics than retail clinics, but well below those charged at the emergency room, and they can handle more complex medical problems, such as sprains, simple broken bones, some burns, and cuts that require stitches, than retail clinics. You may be able to make an appointment at an urgent care clinic.
Get Primary Care at a Community Health Center. For primary health care, as well as unexpected illnesses or injuries, go to a community health center. These nonprofits serve those with low incomes and/or no health insurance, with charges usually based on income and guidelines set by the federal government. One downside to these facilities is that waits may be long.
Do Your Homework before You Need Health Care. For example, compare prices at retail clinics and urgent care facilities so you know which ones have the lowest prices before you need one. Also, do some comparison shopping for the best prices on office visits and lab work, and don’t be shy about asking if you can get a break on the price if you pay up front and in cash.
Save on Drug Costs. If you need a prescription medication, ask your doctor if there is a generic version that will work as well as the brand name drug or if there is a less expensive over-the-counter option. If not, find out if he has samples he can give you. Also, if you don’t have prescription drug coverage, you may qualify for discounts on drugs through pharmaceutical company or state programs or other programs. You can investigate these options on the internet. Finally, comparison shop before filling a prescription, because some pharmacies now offer very low prices on some widely used medications, including some antibiotics.
Attend Health Fairs. Watch for health fairs in your community where you may be able to obtain certain health services, including health screenings, such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol tests, at low or no cost.
money.msn.com, Uninsured ? Where to get health care ‘” 2 ‘” medical care ‘” MSN Money
Anna Vander Broek, www.forbes.com, What to Do If Your Job Doesn’t Offer Health Insurance
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