Got Health Care? Probably not! The number of people lacking health insurance right now seems to be high. This can be depressing, disappointing, and frustrating.
Even with insurance, you can get screwed financially. Currently, I am completely blessed to have a wonderful job with the best benefits I have ever heard of. Ever. this is even more of a blessing after being uninsured for nearly three years. Here are some things that I have been trying to do to reduce health care costs.
Prevention! Take care of yourself. Eat right. Don't eat a lot of sugar. (I fail pretty hard at this one, but you know.) Get the right amount of sleep. Exercise (or just go for walks!) Don't over-schedule yourself. Have a positive attitude. It sounds stupid, but a positive attitude is my biggest health benefit. It makes all the other things easier, even if it took many years to acquire. If you are a woman, get your girly exam once a year. If you are sexually active, get tested after every new partner. Don't screw around with your health.
Alternative Medicine! As we speak, I am taking my vitamins and soaking my foot in an oatmeal bath. It sounds bizarre, but don't knock it until you've tried it. My life has improved by leaps and bounds since I started doing acupuncture on a weekly basis, taking vitamins for depression and other things. I also have a doctor who doubles as a naturopath. All of these factors have helped to keep me healthy.
Find a good doctor! When I was uninsured, I hated paying hundreds out of pocket for office visits with jerks. Unfortunately, sometimes you're going to have to pay hundreds out of pocket. But don't pay it to jerks. Find a good office that will let you self-pay, and find a wonderful doctor there. THIS WILL TAKE WORK. But it will make you happier in the end. In Seattle I really enjoy the Country Doctor. Now that I am insured, I still go there. I also recommend Planned Parenthood. They helped me with free birth control and low cost exams for years.
Rest BEFORE you get sick! Doing this helped me fend off a lot of sickness when I was in college. Unfortunately, this is harder to do when you have a job--before I could just skip class and sleep. (Not that I did it unless I really needed to!) Give it a try though. Your sicknesses will not last as long.
Alcohol, Cigarettes and Marijuana! These things are bad for you. Use in moderation or not at all. You'll save a ton of money in many ways. Plus, pot is smelly.
When in doubt, ask! Back in the day, my drunk roommate stepped on my toe with her high heels. (I don't blame her--it was an accident and also her 21st birthday. It happens!) I went to the doctor and she said that she would Xray it. I asked her why and how much it would cost. She said "You know...we don't REALLY need to Xray it. It was just to see." We ended up skipping the Xray and probably several hundred dollars off of my bill. Yes!
You can also call your insurance company to get a rough idea of what things will cost. (That is, if you are insured.) I called mine earlier this week to see how much it would cost to get allergy testing. This let me evaluate whether it was worth it or not. (I think it is.)
Don't look on Web Md to self diagnose! You'll regret it.
These are probably not new ideas to you, but I have found them quite helpful, after much trial and error with this ridiculous system that Americans call health "care". Good luck!