As the new year begins, one overlooked aspect of saving money is being in good health. This includes eating healthier foods, having an annual check up by a physician, oral care, vision care, and mental health. When any one of these aspects are neglected there can be negative consequences. This means a hefty out of pocket expense to fix the neglected problem which may include lost days of work, lost productivity,or costly medications. Any one of these outcomes could spell disaster to your ability to make money and to keep the money you have saved. The best way to prevent this added and often unexpected cost is to stay healthy.
This is the perfect time to schedule all the necessary doctor’s appointments to ensure a healthy year, or as healthy as possible since it is flu and cold season. There are a few options that I have used in the past since my husband and I often did not have health insurance. The following suggestions are things that we have utilized in the past until we were able to establish ourselves more successfully through employment insurance options. These are not intended to replace a family physician, pharmacist, optometrist, or opthamologist, or any other health care provider. These are merely options to utilize when a more stable health care plan is unavailable.
The first and often cheapest place to go is the local health department. They have services ranging from mental health and substance abuse to general practitioners. They often provide a sliding scale for payment or provide certain services free of charge. I usually call the health department, especially when in a new area, ask what services they provide, how much the services will cost, and then weigh my options or schedule an appointment. There are often long wait times, so starting this at the beginning of the year is a smart choice. It can take days, weeks, or even a couple months for the appointment. Another added benefit of calling the health department is they often provide information for other providers in the area which help people who are uninsured and lack available funds or very limited funds.
In addition, most metropolitan or larger cities have free or reduced clinics. These usually offer general care and women’s health but there are free or reduced vision, dental, and mental health care clinic options in some locations. There are often stipulations or qualifications to meet to receive care. I have gone to clinic’s which do not have any income or work requirement and are completely free of charge but do ask for donations, I have also gone to a clinic which had a work requirement and then charged based on a sliding scale which was determined at the initial appointment. I had to provide my recent W-2 and one month of pay verification, as a means to meet the income and work requirement so be prepared and have the documents handy in case they are needed. These clinics are often intended for the working poor and not for the unemployed or the those above a set income level.
Another option is to talk to the local hospital servicing the area. They often provide reduced cost care with similar verification of income system as the clinics and often collaborate and have partnerships with local clinics for services provided. They often offer payment plans which can be spread out over a length of time which can take the sting out of having to pay all up front. Hospitals frequently have pharmacies within their system and can provide reduced cost medications as an additional benefit. The great aspect of being able to join a low income hospital service is the availability of a much wider range of services than a clinic can provide if there is a more serious health problem which arrives.
These are some of the options I and my family have used in the past when money was extra scarce and we just couldn’t afford to become sick. I have found all of these places to be staffed with caring individuals who are in it for the people and not the money. This is where I begin my search when money is tight. As the new year is upon I am currently setting up my families yearly physicals and would encourage any readers to do the same. Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.
A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick. P.T. Barnum