In tough economic times, people look for ways to save money. One study found that half of Americans cut down on their medical care in the past year because of cost concerns. They did this by relying on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than going to the doctor. They avoided dental care. And 28 percent postponed medical care that they needed.
There are better ways of keeping to your budget. You don't want to make choices that will hurt your health.
- Don't ignore your symptoms. Symptoms are your body's way of telling you something is wrong. The money you pay to go to the doctor will be far less than what you would spend if your illness or injury goes untreated. Your doctor may be willing to work with you. You can also check into free or low-price services at a local clinic. Even if you're not sick, make sure to get preventive screenings, immunizations and routine health care.
- Don't put off a procedure. If you need surgery or another medical procedure, a delay could end up costing you. It could also take a serious toll on your health. You may be able to negotiate lower fees with your doctor or hospital. You can also ask about setting up a payment plan.
- Don't pass up tests or X-rays. Some tests are essential. They make it possible for your doctors to diagnose you and give you the right treatment. If money is an issue, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about which tests are absolutely necessary.
- Don't skip your meds. Taking less medicine than the doctor has prescribed or skipping doses can be dangerous for your health. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any concerns you have about paying for your medicines. Ask about generics. Try finding a discount pharmacy. If you're on Medicare, apply for Extra Help and other savings programs.
- Don't put off dental care. Regular visits to the dentist give you much more than a nice smile. What happens in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body. Recent studies have linked gum infections with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and premature, low-weight births. Also, your dentist can see signs of oral cancer. Early detection increases your chances of survival.
- Don't cancel your coverage. It's tempting to think about how much money you'd save if you stopped paying for insurance. But it's far more expensive to be treated for a major, unexpected illness or accident. Even a relatively minor surgery can be very expensive. If you need to cut back, consider buying a high-deductible policy.
Created on 08/17/2009
Updated on 01/09/2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancers.
- HealthCare.gov. Free or low-cost care.
- United States Social Security Administration. Getting extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs: Resource and income limits.
- The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Health care costs: A primer.