It can’t be denied that medical costs in the U.S. are out of control. Although the passage of the Affordable Care Act has helped stabilize things somewhat, scores of Americans are still drowning in medical debt and are one emergency away from total financial ruin. As such, it’s easy to see why so many of us are hesitant to seek medical attention, even when we desperately need it. To make matters worse, we also have a habit of inadvertently making medical costs even steeper for ourselves. In the interest of avoiding this costly blunder, be extra-mindful of the following behaviors.
Not Even Trying to Get Insurance
Being bereft of any type of insurance coverage can be a major detriment to your efforts to keep medical costs in check. While it’s true that insurance is likely to set you back a little each month, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) has made obtaining affordable coverage much easier than it used to be. The ACA provides people with subsidies on a sliding scale, thereby making certain insurance plans considerably more affordable for millions of Americans. So, if it’s been a long time since you last shopped around for insurance, now would be the perfect time to visit Healthcare.gov and see what plans you qualify for. Depending on your income level, some of the plans for which you qualify may be free. No matter how certain you are that you can’t afford health insurance, there’s absolutely no harm in looking.
Not Looking into Medicaid
While not perfect, Medicaid – i.e., America’s public health insurance program for low-income individuals – provides millions of Americans with convenient medical coverage. Additionally, many people who qualify for Medicaid aren’t even aware of their eligibility. Since the criteria for eligibility varies from state to state, you should visit your state’s Medicaid website or speak to someone at your local welfare office if you’re unclear on whether or not you qualify. Furthermore, Medicaid recipients are often able to retroactively apply their coverage to medical bills incurred before their applications were approved. So, if you don’t think getting coverage now will help you with existing bills, think again.
Not Asking About Financial Aid Options
A fair number of healthcare providers offer financial aid options to patients who are uninsured, underinsured or going through financial hard times. Depending on the provider and/or your individual financial situation, you may even qualify for full-on debt forgiveness. However, while financial aid can be a boon to cash-strapped healthcare seekers, many of the providers who offer it don’t exactly advertise it. This means the onus of asking about financial aid options is on you.
Just remember – the fact that financial aid hasn’t been mentioned does not mean it doesn’t exist. So, if you’re curious, you have absolutely nothing to lose by asking. Furthermore, even if the provider in question doesn’t formally offer financial aid, simply mentioning that you’re uninsured, underinsured or unable to comfortably afford a bill may facilitate a large discount.
Ignoring Preventative Care
Although healthcare experts consistently stress the importance of preventative care, it’s easy to see why so many Americans fail to act on this advice. After all, staying current with checkups and seeing doctors in response to seemingly small problems costs money. Still, parting ways with a small amount of money in the short term can prevent you from incurring massive amounts of medical debt down the line.
With this in mind, make a point of going in for annual physicals and agreeing to any follow-up appointments your general practitioner (GP) recommends. Additionally, if you don’t currently have a GP, you should remedy this posthaste. For example, Kentuckians looking for general family medical practice Florence, KY should have no trouble finding accommodating options.
One should never have to worry about money when seeking medical treatment. After all, health problems are stressful enough on their own – adding the prospect of crushing debt to the equation is nothing short of cruel. Still, for many of us in the U.S., exorbitantly high medical costs are an inescapable fact of life. Further complicating matters is the fact that we often tend to make this problem worse without even realizing it. When looking for ways to avoid such missteps, steer clear of the behaviors discussed above.
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