Paying Medical Bills Without Health Insurance

Some advice for patients without health insurance (or for anybody wondering why the following is the case). Learn about some things can be done to reduce the costs of someone being uninsured when going to the hospital.


Example of Doctor Visit as Uninsured Patient

When you visit a medical practitioner or hospital, they can bill any amount they want (although some are limited by local laws). For some practitioners, the insurance company negotiates how much they’ll pay them for that service. For example, a doctor may charge $200 for a sick visit. But the insurance company negotiates that they’ll only pay $75 for a sick visit. The $200 bill sent by the doctor to the insurance company is called the pre-negotiated rate. The $75 bill in this instance is called the negotiated rate. An insured patient at an in-network practice will not need to pay more than the negotiated rate.

In short, Medicare sets its rates across the board. Providers (e.g. hospitals) have no choice but to accept them, as they are all-but-required to accept Medicare patients. Because Medicare is not required to ensure that its rates are sustainable, Medicare ends up reimbursing, on average, 7% less than the costs of providing services to its patients. (This is not accounting for salaries, overhead, etc. – just the per-patient, marginal cost of each additional service).

If hospitals didn’t make up the difference somehow, they would go bankrupt. So they have to charge other patients more. Unfortunately, most hospitals cannot, by law, charge patients different amounts depending on what their insurance status is when presenting the initial bill. So, the initial bill that they send to everyone is absurdly high. They don’t expect anyone to pay that amount. But they have to highball the initial bill to insurers (to start negotiations), and they cannot legally ask patients if they are uninsured and then present them with a smaller initial bill.

The private insurers usually look at the high bill and say “No, we’re not going to pay that much. But we will agree to pay you 200% what Medicare does for this service, for all our patients this year, if you stop sending us these bills.” This is the intended result.


What happens with uninsured patients?

Uninsured patients usually look at the high bill and freak out, because they think they’re expected to pay it. Hospitals could not care less if you pay it or not, which is why you can almost always negotiate it down. Tell them, “I cannot afford to pay $20,000, but I will be able to pay $1,000, and I will pay you that today if that’s what you charge me.” They will almost always take you up on this, beacuse it’s better to them to have the small bill paid than to have a bill that a patient ends up defaulting on. (Defaults affect their bad debt ratio).


Negotiated Rates for Insurance Companies

In the above example, having health insurance was financially an excellent move for Bob. For $11,000, he avoided paying $43,000 worth of medical bills. But most people don’t have medical bills that exceed their out-of-pocket maximum. For those individuals, health insurance provides a secondary benefit called “negotiated rates”.

When you visit a medical practitioner or hospital, they can bill any amount they want (although some are limited by local laws). For some practitioners, the insurance company negotiates how much they’ll pay them for that service. For example, a doctor may charge $200 for a sick visit. But the insurance company negotiates that they’ll only pay $75 for a sick visit. The $200 bill sent by the doctor to the insurance company is called the pre-negotiated rate. The $75 bill in this instance is called the negotiated rate. An insured patient at an in-network practice will not need to pay more than the negotiated rate.

In-network or Out-of-Network

The medical practices that have a negotiated rate with your insurance company are considered to be in-network. The medical practitioners that did not agree to the discounted rates are considered to be out-of-network. An out-of-network medical provider can charge you the pre-negotiated rate. Taking the above example, the insurance company may only pay $75 for a $200 out-of-network sick visit, leaving the patient responsible for the $125 balance.

Additionally, insurance companies also may have different deductibles, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for in-network vs out-of-network visits. For example, the deductible may be $3,000 for in-network visits and $4,000 for out-of-network visits. It is usually most efficient financially to only use in-network providers.

Lowering Healthcare Costs Tips

Healthcare expenses can be quite high, with deductibles of several thousand dollars and out-of-pocket maximums over ten thousand dollars. Luckily, the IRS allows people to sometimes lower the actual cost of healthcare expenses by paying for them pre-tax.


Using Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) to Lower Healthcare Costs

Some employers grant access to a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA, sometimes called FSA), where money is taken out of the employee’s paycheck pre-tax. Then, as the healthcare expenses are incurred, the employee submits the receipts to the HCFSA program, which then reimburses the expenses from the pre-tax allotment. Some HCFSA programs also supply a debit card which can be used to pay for eligible expenses.

One of the biggest issues with HCFSAs is that the money allocated for them is “use-it or lose it”, meaning that only expenses incurred during the calendar year can be reimbursed from the HCFSAs. Any money left in HCFSA cannot be used in the following calendar year. While some companies allow carrying over up to $500, you’ll need to check your companies exact policy to determine what amount, if any, can be carried over to the following year.

For example, Joe allocated $2,000 for his HCFSA. Over the course of the year, Joe incurred $1,000 of medical expenses. Joe’s company’s HCFSA does not allow carrying over any funds in his HCFSA, so Joe loses the remaining $1,000 in the HCFSA.


Using a Health Savings Account to Lower Healthcare costs

Another option available is called a Health Savings Account (HSA). If someone has an insurance policy classified as a High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), they are allowed to open and fund an HSA. An HSA can be funded with pre-tax dollars, and unlike an FSA account, the balance is not forfeited at the end of the year. Any money left in the HSA at age 65 can be withdrawn without penalty, similar to a traditional 401(k).


Other Tips to Lower Healthcare Cost

  • Ask About Generics
  • Ask for a Discount
  • Listen to Your Doc
  • Shop Around
  • Compare Costs for Lab Tests
  • Try Mail-Order Medications
  • Read Your Bills
  • Consider a High-Deductible Plan
  • Use a Flexible Spending Account
  • Take a Walk

Preparing for Medical Treatment

There are many stories of people being shocked with a bill for thousands of dollars. Below are the steps you can take to avoid owing (potentially) thousands of dollars.

  1. Choose an in-network practitioner. Verify that they’re in-network by calling your insurance company or checking your insurance company’s online directory. Many people have been told by a secretary that the practice is in-network and then learned otherwise. If you go out-of-network, you’ll likely have to pay the full charge for the service and will likely need to submit the bill to the insurance company yourself for reimbursement.
  2. If a referral or preauthorization is needed, make sure the paperwork is squared away. You may receive an EOB for the upcoming procedures. If you don’t receive an EOB, call your insurance company to verify that all necessary paperwork went through.
  3. After each visit, you should receive an explanation of benefits (EOB) with an itemized list of what the doctor billed for. If there is an unexpected or fraudulent item, contact the doctor’s office to clarify why that line is included on your bill. Health providers are required to provide an itemized bill. If the charge is fraudulent, contact your insurance company.
  4. If you go to an out-of-network practice, keep a copy of the statement from the doctor’s office, in case you need to submit the claim to your insurance company yourself. Even if the secretary says they’ll submit the claim to your insurance for you, they may not – and you’ll be the one who has to foot the bill.
  5. Once you determine how much is owed from a medical visit, submit the expense to your HCFSA for reimbursement.

Improving your life and getting Disciplined

What Discipline Is

To discipline yourself is to consciously change your patterns of thinking and behavior.

You may know what it feels like to be disciplined. You do your very best and stand up for your own values, whilst doing this outwardly, you feel a calm satisfaction on the inside. On the contrary, you may feel chaotic inside when you’re undisciplined and not doing much. Unless we can express and act on our thoughts and highest wishes, they collect inside us, we stagnate and slowly turn depressed. To grow is to live, after all.

I don’t know if I can pinpoint exactly what discipline is. It’s partly open to your own interpretation. It’s a way of going about things in life first and foremost, a way to travel, not some sort of destination. The journey of discipline can be associated with doing many things:

  • Deriving pleasure/satisfaction from doing what is ultimately good for yourself and others.
  • Living according to your values, even when it’s hard.
  • Acknowledging what is in your control and not letting yourself worry about what is not.
  • Letting your “rational, higher self” rule.
  • Living once, doing it right, and making sure that it was enough.
  • Realizing how your mind affects everything else (your thoughts > words > actions > habits > character > destiny).
  • Earning your rest and realizing how the easy pleasures of life can be appreciated more when there’s something contrasting them.
  • Harnessing, not suppressing, your emotions and impulses.
  • Overcoming fear and other challenges through courage and persistence.

In this guide, the purpose of disciplining yourself is for you to develop a great mindset, built on consistent action towards becoming your own ideal self. Essentially, how to become the greatest version of yourself through a lot of grit and conditioning.

If there is one philosophy known for valuing what’s listed above, I would say that is Stoicism (/r/stoicism). I want to avoid too many quotes in this guide, but I’ll lend it this one:

“Imagine you were now dead, or had not lived before this moment. Now view the rest of your life as a bonus and live it as nature directs.” – Marcus Aurelius

Not only does this translate into “YOLO”, it also encourages you to value the time you have alive and make the best of it that you can. Here’s where discipline comes to use, and you know this already. I’ll lend you a last quote and conclude what discipline is about; practice, not theory:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius

What Discipline Is Not

  • Easy.
  • Something you limit to one area of your life.
  • Something you learn and can expect to keep.
  • A quick fix to solve your current problems.
  • A guaranteed path to riches, fame, respect, happiness or anything really.
  • The product of someone other than yourself. (Your boss, drill instructor, mother, or friend can influence you to do their bidding, but only when you exercise your own will do you become disciplined. Doing their bidding can be your will, of course.)

Why even become disciplined?

Discipline is boring. You know that it is both hard and fairly unexciting to exhaust yourself with trying to commit yourself to new, better habits. Changing yourself drastically and on purpose is not only hard and boring, but uncommon. Around 3 % of the population might have written goals for themselves. This says more about those 3 % than it does about the rest of people. Just because someone sets goals for themselves and are actively working on improving themselves, does not necessarily mean that they are happier than a guy sitting in his mother’s basement eating cheetos and ordering anime figurines online for his collection. Someone addicted to drugs, without a second thought on their future, may feel content where they are.

That you are interested in changing yourself somehow says little about anyone else, it mostly stands as a testament to who you are. Discipline is to be respected, but it should not replace anyone’s humility. A disciplined approach to life is an adventure, but so is every approach to life. There’s a reason people can’t change others. It’s because they don’t choose discipline – discipline chooses them. As you are here, you have obviously been chosen. That’s right, you can say that “the thug life” chose you :)

Some reasons to become disciplined:

  • Progress: To grow it to be alive. If discipline is your tool to get what you want out of life and become the person you wish to be, let it be so.
  • Inner peace: The majority of human suffering comes from regret and anxiety. You have regrets about what you did in the past and anxiety about how the future will turn out. These are the two main problems preventing you from living happily in the present. How can we reduce regret and anxiety? Through discipline. We need to always approach our past mistakes with forgiveness. Not only should we forgive others, we need to forgive ourselves too. We acknowledge mistakes, move on, but always apply those lessons to what we are doing right now. Through learning and forgiving yourself for past mistakes and doing your very best to apply that to what you do right now, you reduce both anxiety for the future and any regret you may have had about your past. This is important if you want to experience a greater inner peace, a mind that is less troubled and more content.
  • Because you know what is right: In all probability, you know what you need to do, how to do it, and why you need to do it. Following this path you have laid out for yourself is logical. Not only can it be a logical decision, it will likely come from your heart too.
  • Preparation: Who feels like they want to get disciplined? Get disciplined before you NEED to get disciplined. There will come a point where you feel a stronger urge or need to change, and you will wonder why you didn’t begin earlier.

If you browse /r/getdisciplined, or a similar subreddit, and you have even read this far in a guide on how to get disciplined, you probably know 90 % of it as it is. Continue reading and let me bring up to the surface what you already know. Even if you know this already, you resonate with it and it’s like your own thoughts, do you let your disciplined thoughts stay as thoughts? Whether or not you feel like your inside thoughts match your outside actions,we are who we pretend to be. That is the reality. So, why not do it? Why not become more disciplined? You know your reason, or you have your excuse.

Saving Money on Health Insurance Premiums

Selecting a health insurance plan can be a stressful experience. Health insurance plans and billing practices can be complicated, and selecting the right plan can significantly affect the physical, mental and financial health of you and your family. Buying too much insurance can be very costly over the long term if you buy a more expensive plan than you need.

How to Save Money on Health Insurance

Likewise, under-insuring, especially by the young and healthy that feel like they don’t need insurance, can be even more costly if an accident occurs or bad diagnosis given. Having a basic understanding of the available options will help ensure that you pick a plan that is right for you and your family.

Keep in mind that much of what is on this page are general guidelines. Individual plans vary and you should carefully read all information about the plans that are available to you.


Six Tips for Saving Money on Healthcare

  1. Pick the right insurance policy
  2. Shop around for medication
  3. Know what your health insurance policy covers
  4. Ask whether tests, prescriptions or procedures are really necessary
  5. Ask for prices upfront, and ask about discounts for cash payments
  6. Pick the right facility


Different Types of Health Insurance

  • HMO(Health Maintenance Organization): HMO insurance plans generally have cheaper premiums than the other types of plans. The drawback is that they are also usually the most restrictive when it comes to selecting health care providers.
  • EPO(Exclusive Provider Organization): EPO insurance plans, like HMO, usually will only cover non-emergency medical costs from providers that are in-network. Referrals are not usually required in order to see specialists.
  • POS(Point of Service): POS insurance plans will usually cover medical costs both in- and out-of-network, though you will typically pay less at in-network providers. Referrals from a primary care provider may be required to see specialists.
  • PPO(Preferred Provider Organization): PPO insurance plans, like POS, cover medical costs both in- and out-of-network, with cheaper costs when staying in-network. A referral is usually not required to see specialists.


High Deductible (with HSA) vs Low Deductible Plans

As suggested by their name, High Deductible Health Plans generally will have higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums than Low Deductible Plans. Lower premium costs often make high deductible plans a preferred option for people who do not expect to have many medical expenses. With the addition of HSA contributions, high deductible health plans can be right for anyone.

Low Deductible Health Plans have higher premium costs. In return you will usually get a lower deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. The higher up-front costs may be worth it for people who expect higher medical costs or who don’t expect to have enough savings to pay for a higher deductible.


How to Compare Health Insurance Plans

When comparing plans, the following factors should be considered:

  • Calculate the total amount you’ll pay in premiums throughout the year for both plans. Keep that difference in mind while looking at the other factors.
  • Compare deductibles. If possible, ensure you’ll have enough savings to pay at least your deductible for whichever plan you choose.
  • Compare out-of-pocket maximums. Not as important as the deductible for most people, but it’s good to know the absolute maximum you’ll have to pay.
  • Compare networks. Ensure that your preferred providers are covered by the plan that you choose.
  • Compare co-insurance for each plan.
  • Compare which services are covered by co-pays and/or not subject to the deductible.
  • Potential tax benefits or employer contributions related to an FSA or HSA.
  • Estimate the amount and type of medical expenses you will have throughout the year, keeping in mind that even healthy people can easily end up in the emergency room.


Making the Most Out of Your HSA

If you qualify for an HSA, you can take advantage of one of the best savings vehicles available. The following tax advantages apply to any contributions made to your Health Savings Account:

  • Tax free contributions. This even includes FICA taxes for pre-tax contributions made through your employer. Most states also offer a state tax deduction.
  • Tax free earnings.
  • Tax free distributions if used for qualified medical expenses.


Using HSA Funds and Tax Consequences

It’s also very important to note that once you turn 65, any funds in your HSA are no longer subject to the 20% penalty when used for non-health related costs. This means that you can treat your HSA very similar to a Traditional IRA. With that in mind, it may be advantageous to max out your HSA contributions before contributing to an IRA or 401(k) beyond employer match.


Common Health Insurance Terms

  • Premium: The cost of insurance coverage, usually billed per pay period.
  • Deductible: The amount that you pay out-of-pocket for medical services each year before insurance starts paying.
  • Co-insurance: The percentage of medical costs that you must pay once the deductible has been met.
  • Co-pay: A fixed amount that you pay, generally for services which are not subject to the deductible.
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: The maximum that you will pay out-of-pocket in any given year. Once this has been met, the insurance company will pay 100% of medical costs for the remainder of the year.
  • FSA(Flexible Spending Account): A tax free savings account that may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Any funds that are not used by the end of the year are forfeited.
  • HSA(Health Savings Account): Similar to an FSA, contributions are tax free and may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Unlike an FSA, unused contributions remain yours forever. Contributions may only be made if you are covered by a qualifying high deductible health insurance plan.
  • Pre-authorization: Certain tests or services must receive prior authorization from your insurance company.
  • Referral: Some plans require referrals from a primary care provider in order to see a specialist.

How to Get Up in the Morning and Wake up on Time

Tips for Waking Up on Time

  1. Drink water the night before, so you have to piss really badly when you wake up. this may take a bit of adjustment (too much and you’ll wake up during the night and go, too little and you’ll be able to hold it the next morning), but it works great
  2. Make the habit of getting out of bed IMMEDIATELY when your alarm goes off. don’t event think, don’t hesitate, just jump out of bed the second you hear the alarm, and you don’t give the inner voice a chance to talk you out of it. after just a few days, it will be so automatic that you’ll be out of bed and standing up without even thinking about it, every time your alarm goes off. practice this the night before, by lying in bed pretending it’s the next morning, and jumping up when you hear (or pretend) your alarm goes off, and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to do the next day
  3. Put your alarm far away. no need to go crazy here, because if you really have to lock it in a box with a padlock chained to your bed like one guy i saw on reddit, then you have bigger issues to fix first. if it’s that hard for you to get up, you either need to get more sleep, or make significant changes to your life, because you are not motivated at all by what you’re currently doing with your life. waking up should be the best part of your day, because you get to go back to doing what you love. if you aren’t spending your life doing what you love, i suggest your realize that you only get ONE chance at life, you don’t get a re-do, you don’t get another chance, this is it, this is your one shot at ever doing anything, don’t live it as if you’ve got forever. [edit: several people have said they use the padlocked-box method because it’s the only thing that works for them, not because they aren’t enjoying their life- if this is the case for you, then don’t worry about it. as long as YOU feel that you’re living the way you want, that’s all that matters. the point is just that it CAN be a warning sign if getting up every morning feels like a horrible chore, that’s all]
  4. Always get up, no matter HOW long it takes. if you have to lie there for an hour every morning to talk yourself up, then do it. but KEEP doing it, and never let yourself get discouraged. you need persistence, because eventually, even if it takes a week, you’ll realize that you aren’t going to let yourself off the hook, so you may as well just stop fighting it and get up on time. if you know that you’re GOING to get up eventually, it’s a lot easier to realize that fighting it is only counterproductive.
  5. Sleep in multiples of 1.5 hours- for most people that means 6hrs or 7.5hrs of sleep a night (9 will cause issues, you have problems when you get too much sleep for some reason) ever wake up feeling super alert, fell asleep and woke up 15 minutes later feeling dead? that’s because you hit the cycle right at a 1.5 hour mark when you woke up, then put yourself off peak by sleeping more. this matches circaidian rhythms or some shit like that, doesn’t really matter you can look up the science and stuff if you’re interested, but the point is that you can feel more rested off of 4.5 hours of sleep waking up right on time than you can off of 8 hrs but waking up off peak. try it, and it will blow your mind. give yourself 15 minutes or so to fall asleep, and calculate your time that way.
  6. Buy a space heater and a timer. Set it so that it heats up your room before you wake up. You can use this two ways: 1) if your room is cold, you won’t want to get up out of a nice warm bed, so you can make it a lot easier by having a nice warm room instead, or 2) if you really need a drastic measure, set it so that it will be blazing hot in your room by the time you want to wake up. that way, instead of your bed being a nice warm comforting place that you want to stay, it will be a goddamn sauna of sweat and ‘oh god get me out of here right now’. basically a space heater is just a way to make what you want (being out of the bed) more desireable, and/or what you don’t want (being in bed) less desirable.
  7. Put a light on a timer to turn on about 5 minutes before you wake up. The light helps make your body realize that it’s time to get up. also, its very easy to go back to sleep in a nice dark room, but when it’s bright it’s harder to fall back asleep, plus it ‘feels’ more like you should get up when it’s bright out
  8. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (or as often as possible). This may be inconvienient for many people, especially if don’t have a stable schedule for work or whatever, but even so, you may find that it’s worth waking up early even on days you don’t have to, simply to keep the trend going, because your body will very quickly adapt to a sleep schedule (just think of how fast you adjust to jet lag), and you’ll begin to wake up right around the time your alarm goes off every morning. also, going to sleep at the same time every night will make that easier too. our bodies LOVE schedules, and will adapt to them quite readily, which can be used to our advantage

How to Feel Well Rested in Morning and Get Better Sleep

There are many ways to get better sleep and feel well rested in the morning. Check out these tips on getting better sleep!


Stop drinking caffeine

Stop drinking caffeine. Cut it out entirely. Take aspirin for the couple days of headaches. Then when you need it once a month, it will actually be a boost instead of “reset to not drowsy”. Even then, take it (small quantities: tea not soda) in the morning, never in the evening (it has a half life of around 5 hours).


Stop making up lost sleep on the weekends

Stop making up lost sleep on the weekends, by getting more sleep on the weekdays. Make a schedule and stick to it. Do you need 8 hours of sleep to function? Do you take an hour to fall asleep? Do you need to be up at 7AM? Aim to go to bed at 10PM, every single night of the week. Are you an insomniac who needs 2 hours to fall asleep but only 4 hours of actual sleep to function? Fine! Plan for six (but seriously consider meditation classes for while you’re waiting to fall asleep). You can adjust this as you go but force yourself to lie in bed at that time for a couple weeks until you’re used to it. If your schedule won’t allow this much time set aside for sleep, re-evaluate your life.


Stop snoozing / setting multiple alarms

Stop snoozing / setting multiple alarms. Snooze sleep is not worthy sleep. Set your alarm for the last possible time you can get up (I don’t mean like “not even time to shower” but the last possible time to do your entire morning routine with a little urgency). Then train yourself to get up as soon as it goes off.


Regular exercise

Regular exercise (any kind of exertion; walking a few miles a day totally counts) is really important, you’re not going to sleep well after an all-day movie/gaming marathon.


Light can be more powerful

Light can be more powerful (but shorter lasting) at keeping you awake than caffeine. In the morning get that awakeness you lost giving up caffeine by opening the windows and letting the sun shine in. But you also need to give yourself a sense when it’s getting dark so your body can wind down. Dimmers are cheap and easy to install. Make sure your alarm clock isn’t a beacon of light. Put sticky notes over it if you have to dim it, you shouldn’t be able to read it well in daytime. I use a projection clock because I sleep with my head facing up and I don’t have to move (or mentally wake up) much to read the time from the ceiling at night (it’s unreadable with the bedroom light on)

Oh it’s an hour before bed-time and it takes 45 to 90 minutes to play a round of a video game? NO. BAD. Even at 45 minutes that’s a lot of light in your face right before bed. Honestly you’re better off spending that last hour with some human contact (in a low light area) or (at least for me with some self control) on reddit with the enhancement suite’s dark background on.


Waking up in Middle of Night

When you do wake up in the middle of the night, keep it simple so you don’t “rev up” your brain to full awakeness. A bathroom nightlight is good, depending on your vision you may need to tape it darker.


The bed is for sleeping and sex, nothing else

The bed is for sleeping and sex, nothing else. Pull the reading light and TV out of the bedroom. For that matter, I try to get my sex done in the mornings or day time so she’s not pining for it when I’m trying to sleep. Back to the light thing, I bought blackout curtains and keep mine as dark as possible.


Improve Diet

Eat more non-sugary foods before bed (okay maybe not right before bed but soon enough). Capping the night with a small sugary food can be a digestive aid, but I mean like one cookie.


Set the right tempature

I found myself futily waking up many nights because I was too warm. I then read somewhere that your body temperature naturally goes up at a certain point in your sleep. I bought a programmable thermostat for my central A/C in the summer (apologies if you don’t have this option), and set it to go down two degrees at approximately 2.5 hours before I planned on waking up. It makes a huge difference.


Establish boundaries with your bed-mates

Establish boundaries with your bed-mates. If they are disruptive, you can tell pets what to do by locking them out. Humans require a little more negotiation. Let your partner know when you are getting ready for bed “I’m brushing my teeth now” and encourage them to get their pajamas out of the bedroom because you’re going to sleep soon and don’t want them to have to turn on the light. Over time if you’re consistent, your partner will probably end up in bed 5 minutes after you most nights anyway. Noisy neighbors? Get a pack of earplugs and learn how to properly insert them.


Don’t ever use any kind of drug to help yourself sleep

Don’t ever use any kind of drug to help yourself sleep. Count your alcoholic drinks and switch to water at the appropriate amount of time before your planned bed time. Think of it like planning to have your hangover as you’re falling asleep, and then it never comes. “Passed out” is never the same as “asleep”.

Do most of this and you’ll find yourself calmly waking up just before your alarm, consistently. It’s what works for me, I’m not trying to be demanding I just try to consider them absolute rules to myself. They switched me from a “night person” to a “morning person”.

Cheap Ways to Stay Healthy and Keep Insurance Costs Low

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.