In winter I was in hospital to see my friend’s new born. There, I witnessed a heated dispute between a patient and the hospital authorities over hospital charges. There was no way that patient could have afford $5000 for a day at the hospital because she didn’t have sufficient insurance.
I am a salaried employee and only get concerned about my co-pay and deductibles, I had not much idea about health care cost prior to that incident.
In US, 50 million people live without insurance.
The main reason behind this is inability to pay the insurance premium. Also, for young adults, a relative confidence on good health makes spending on health insurance premium a second choice to spending on other things.
More than 50% of all bankruptcy cases in US are due to non-payment of medical bills, and most of them are people without health insurance or limited insurance coverage.
There is help you can seek when you are in need for health care while you are not insured, this is based on information available in public domain.
Alternatives for some one without health insurance
Medicaid – Run by the state govt, available for low-income families and requires a stringent qualification procedure. Not all can qualify, but, if you do your basic health care and equipment charges are covered by the state and federal govt fund. All you want to know about Medicaid
COBRA – When you are uninsured because of job loss, you can be enrolled in the COBRA program through your previous employer for 18 months. But you have to pay the premium yourself. More information on COBRA
High deductible Low premium Policies – You basically take a risk on your good health, up side is that you need to pay lower monthly premiums that you can afford. Downside is a risk of wealth erosion due to high deductible, if you need medical help. Another positive is that, having an insurance ensures you pay insurance negotiated lower rates. Let me explain the benefits further
Short Term Policy – If you are in transition between jobs, consider taking a short-term policy. They offer cheaper rates as insurer is exposed to risk for temporary term. Read more on short-term insurance
Treat yourself overseas – Do you have a friend in India or China or east European countries. Medical tourism is on the rise. Due to advent of technology, every one around the globe is exposed to new inventions and practices. A doctor in India is as good as a doctor in US. Visit Govt of India medical tourism website. You can be cured for up to one tenth of the cost in US. Talk to your doctor and people who used this option before opting for overseas health care.
Utilize Auto Insurance Policy – If you have one (you should have one, it’s law), you can use it in absence of health insurance, when you are injured in auto accident.
Health care credit card – When are you are in need, health care credit cards can help you. Unlike normal credit cards they offer more flexible payment terms and rates. Here is the comparison between the healthcare credit cards
Lion’s Club Vision insurance – “Lions clubs often conduct free vision screenings for children and adults. Some Lions districts have their own mobile van for vision screenings. In other instances, clubs arrange with local hospitals or health departments for an eye care professional to perform the screenings. Lions who are eye care professionals may also perform vision screenings.” From the Lion’s club Website.
Dental school provided free service – If you can leave your teeth to the dental students, you can get mighty bargain on dental cost. This online resource you can use, although I can’t recommend as I don’t know any one who used their services, but it’s worth a try. You can contact local dental schools and ask about surgeries and the costs associated with it.
Free Clinic – You might get help from national association of free clinics’ help, they run 1200 non-profit health care clinics throughout the country. Find a free clinic near you. (if you are a reader who can afford to donate to NAFC, please follow the link and donate)
Emergency CARE – If you are in emergency, do not hesitate to get in to the nearest emergency care, life is first before financial health, if god is kind, your charges can be waived off if the hospital requires to treat you for free. Read Emergency Medical Treatment Act.
Health Prevention – Many health conditions can be prevented and mostly they are within your control. Skin related problems can be prevented by practicing cleanliness rigorously, you can prevent a skin disease and associated high cost of skin cure drugs.
Save on Prescription drugs
- Ask your doctor for generic drugs instead of brand names
- Once in a year take all your medicines to pharmacist and ask for a cheaper version if available
- Call our doctor and take advice if you can take over the counter medicines instead
- Check with your employer, they might have free medicine program with MEDCO, do check your health insurance terms properly.
- Participate in drug trials, but after consulting with our doctor
- Consider mail order pharmacies
- Consider online pharmacies and shop for prices, you might get a couple of dollar difference between pharmacies
- Use ‘Switch your pharmacy” offers wherever you get a coupon from. Sometimes pharmacies offer discounts from $10 – $50
Of course, you will save money on your prescriptions if you have health insurance, since the insurance will cover most of the expense. If you do not have health insurance, however, you can still save money every time you need to fill an order by ordering them from an online pharmacy, as they offer lower prices and will deliver right to your door.
|Note: There is no alternaive to having insurance, if you can afford one, you got to have one for your own well being.