There are many different ways to stay healthy and still be frugal. This is especially true when it comes to health insurance and medical care. Some health topics to consider include:
- Dental Care
- Insurance (including MSA’s)
- Alternative Insurance solutions (uninsured/under insured)
- Alternative Medicine (science based only)
- First aid
- Preventative Medicine (Staying healthy)
Below are some cheap ways to stay health and avoid going to the doctor:
Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Nearly every condition, including heart disease and cancer, is benefited some way by eating vegetables and fruits, including some ability to reduce risk factors before ever developing the disease.
Get half an hour of exercise each day. Going from a huge couch potato to walking even half an hour each day has been shown to dramatically improve health. Just get up and take a daily walk, it doesn’t have to be white water kayaking or martial arts, and it doesn’t have to cost any money. Walk
Direct Sunlight. People need direct sunlight. The sun affects your mental and physical health. They recommend ~30 minutes a day depending on the season, and not through a window. Plus, it’s free!
Move around for at least half an hour each day. I know, I’m saying the same thing with different words. But “exercise” makes people think of gyms and treadmills and jogging and headbands and legwarmers and Richard Simmons. All you really need to do is walk around a bit. Walk around your office building at lunch, walk to the opposite end of the mall and back, take the stairs instead of the elevator, whatever.
Washing your hands (or any part of your body) more than several times a day probably will be beneficial in reducing exposure to pathogens however, the repeated washing of the skin with soaps or antibacterial formulations containing triclosan may in some extreme cases be detrimental to the proper barrier function of the skin. Triclosan by killing many pathogens is generally useful but it does not kill all of them, for example Pseudomonas aeruginosa – which is a very dangerous bacteria to some people, is common in hot water systems and triclosan does not kill it.
Phytonutrients – The chemicals made by plants to protect themselves.. So many of them have really amazing health benefits and reduce inflammation. I suspect that they could reduce the level of illness people endure in the US by some huge amount… This is not fringe science, they are all the subject of intense study by scientists all over the world.. Which you can see below, just click on the links to thousands of studies.. almost all of them positive..
Cheap Ways to Keep Health Insurance Costs Low
For Americans, educate yourself on the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). There’s going to be a lot of changes over the next few years that will save a lot of people money. Some of these are already in effect, such as dependent coverage until your 26th birthday. Beginning this month, all new healthcare plans must cover preventative services (like mammograms or contraception) under a co-pay.
Don’t skip doctor appointments because you can’t afford it! Long-term, these will have costly consequences. Make regular appointments a priority, and go to them. If you’re uninsured, consider an urgent care facility rather than the emergency room. They will treat you for urgent symptoms, but not charge Eroom prices.
Have a regular physical exam with a doctor that listens to you. Before you go, write down a list of things that have been bothering you. When the doctor asks if you have any questions, be sure to get them answered to the completely. Don’t leave confused. You are a customer paying for this service. If your doctor brushes you off, find another doctor.
Quit smoking, excessive drinking, eat right, and exercise (at least walking) 30mins a day. I have seen so many people cut down the number of medications they are taking and the issues that they take those medications for just by changing their lifestyle. Yes, it sucks when you are making the changes, but in the long run it is so worth it. You will have fewer trips to the doctor, and fewer prescriptions to refill, and be generally healthier.
Prescriptions – If you have any medications the doctor is writing prescriptions for, ask if a generic or over the counter version might be just as good. Keep a list of your allergies to medications and read them off to your doctor if they don’t ask you to. This will save you an extra phone call/trip to get a different prescription and potentially some money if you fill it, take it, and THEN find out it doesn’t agree with you. Also, before filling your script, call around and see if its cheaper to get it via automatic refills or mail order – many insurances will give a discount on your copay if you participate in those programs. Also, if you are given antibiotics for an infection, ALWAYS take all the antibiotics. Yes, even if you are feeling 100% better.
Check with your hospital/doctors office to see if you qualify for secondary/supplemental insurance or charity care. Always call to check on your bill before you pay it. Ask if it has been sent out to your insurer, and if they covered the claim. Then check your coverage in your policy to see if they match up. If they don’t, ask the doctor’s office to resubmit the charge and follow up with your insurer to see why it wasn’t covered. Sometimes you can even get discounts for paying in cash, and never sending it to the insurer (if you know it’s something the insurance won’t cover).
Remember that hospital bills are negotiable. If you are uninsured and end up in the emergency room with a $5,000 bill, don’t worry too much, as the bill is inflated to account for the reduced amount the insurance companies pay the hospital.
Save Money at the Pharmacy. Use a small, local pharmacy instead of a chain/big box. I was getting a script filled at CVS for years at my normal RX copay of $10. We moved into a small town and I decided to switch to the local/family-owned pharmacy. Also, ask your doctor to prescribe generically – literally the EXACT same drug but can be 25% of the price. Generic prescribing is really being pushed by my med school because it could literally save hundreds of millions on health care costs and the only reason it isn’t done is laziness, or if you are cynical, pressure from drug reps.
Suck it up and go for a double room at a hospital. The single rooms might be nicer, sure, but it costs you a heck of a lot more, and generally isn’t worth it (according to patients) if you’re only going to be there for a short period of time.
Other ways to stay healthy without spending money
Reducing stress, meditation, improving social bonds, and reducing exposure to environmental pollutants are also important and have a notable effect on your life expectancy, but you can change how you eat and exercise today. If you do nothing else, do eat more vegetables and fruits, and take a bit for a walk everyday.