In the US, some form of national healthcare is a hot-button topic that has only gotten hotter in recent months. The country is in the early experimental phase. And predictably, the experiments have left much to be desired thus far.
At one point, PBS placed the percentage of underinsured at about a third of the US population. But that report did not come with a date. And it is very hard to define what one even means by underinsured. One might define the term as the condition of having to pay more out of pocket for healthcare than one can afford. But at some point or other, that could include everyone.
Whatever it means to be underinsured, there is an excellent chance that at some point in your life, it will include you. When that time comes, you are going to need viable options for affordable care. There are precious few. But here is a look at what few there are:
Urgent Care: Smartphone Edition
How does $99 for the first doctor’s visit, and $69 for subsequent visits sound? If you have no insurance at all, it probably sounds pretty good. We are talking about real doctors, and real appointments that last as long as you need them, not the 7-minute shuffle you normally get at a typical office visit.
These benefits are what you can expect from a type of urgent care via smartphone. If you do happen to have insurance, your online visit is merely your copay. This is not about cut-down service. It is about convenience and affordability. You still get all the labs and prescriptions you would when seeing a doctor in person.
It is everything you expect from urgent care, except without the waiting room or the travel. Your appointment is more convenient, and held wherever it is most comfortable for you. It is one of the newest and best options currently available for the underinsured.
Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices
I don’t mean to go from preaching to meddling. But staying healthy means making healthy lifestyle choices. You can’t fight cancer and smoke two packs a day. In large part, our behavior defines our healthcare costs.
It is not just smoking, but drugs, excessive alcohol, overeating, and the lack of a useful and consistent fitness regimen. In short, we take poor care of ourselves. As a result, we need a doctor to do it for us while we are in the process of doing the damage.
This really isn’t intended to be a sermon. It is just a reminder that when underinsured, the best way to keep medical bills low is to eliminate unnecessary visits to the doctor. It will take a little more than an apple a day. But a nutritious diet is certainly a good start.
This is not a call for quack treatments. There are plenty of things you can do yourself at home that are actual remedies. It is a fairly modern conceit that we have to run off to a doctor every time we scrape a knee or twist an ankle.
In truth, there are home remedies for just about every thing that troubles you. I’m not advocating home surgery with homemade hootch as anesthesia, and some power tools from the woodshed. This is about empowering yourself to take care of yourself in all but the most extreme circumstances.
HSA stands for health savings account. It is a type of account that is best paired with some form of insurance, usually high-deductible insurance. Many people are in the unfortunate position of paying monthly for insurance. But when the time comes to use it, they can’t afford the deductible. An HSA is designed for just such an eventuality.
At the end of the day, an HSA is you saving money for a rainy day. But it is tax-deductible, tax free to use, and accumulated interest can be tax deferred. It’s your money with a lot of tax upside.
Even without insurance, you can still see a doctor on an affordable basis, adopt healthy habits, use home remedies, and save for a rainy day.