Healthcare in the United States is a bit of a mixed bag. We have great advancements, but access to care is exceptionally expensive. This limits who can get treatment in unfair ways, especially for lower-income Americans.
Unfortunately, health insurance doesn’t always help the way it should either. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires coverage for preexisting conditions and doesn’t allow higher prices for those who are ill, insurance companies have responded with expensive plans, less coverage, and higher deductibles.
To manage healthcare finances, you have to make wise decisions about what health coverage you choose and how you save for your health needs. Here are some tips to start with right away.
Find Community Healthcare Options
Community healthcare can help you in significant ways, whether you have health insurance or not. You can use the government’s “Find a Health Center” tool or contact your local Department of Health and Human Services.
Community health services often provide medical care, behavioral healthcare (including mental health and substance abuse disorders), and even dental care. The cost is based on a sliding scale, which helps make it affordable for everyone.
Apply for Medicare, Medicaid, or Health Insurance Assistance
You may be able to access affordable health insurance even if you are lower income. Applying for Medicare, Medicaid, or using Healthcare.gov to get assistance paying for health insurance are all options.
If you’re 65 or over or have a disability, consider Medicare. There are many parts to Medicare and you have a lot of options, so make sure you understand the details.
Medicaid allows you to get low-cost or no-cost care for a variety of needs. The program was expanded in many states, so even if you haven’t qualified in the past you may now. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try it! You can also see if you qualify for traditional health insurance with payment assistance through the ACA.
Focus on choosing a plan that works for you. If you need care regularly, it may be worthwhile to choose a higher monthly premium and lower deductibles and copayments. You’ll save overall. However, if you’re relatively healthy, you might want a lower-premium plan where you can save up for the deductible and out-of-pocket costs.
Reduce Financial Stress to Improve Your Health
Financial struggle has a significant impact on people’s health. There are links between financial concerns and depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse disorders. These problems then make it even harder to manage your money well, creating a downward spiral.
The best thing you can do for your health — and your access to healthcare — is get your financial health in order. Like most things, this is easier said than done. However, these ideas might help.
Plan for Necessary Expenses
Everyone knows that getting rid of expensive luxuries is part of budgeting, but what if you don’t have any expensive luxuries? That advice can ring hollow. Instead, list your necessities and when they’re due. Then, list your income.
Look at ways you can save up for expenses, especially if they’re occasional. Do you need to go to the dentist once a year? You can save up a little bit each month and then have the money available.
Earn Additional Income
Earning more money is not as hard as it used to be. Many positions allow you to work from home, either full-time or part-time. We learned a lot from our experience with COVID-19, and one of the biggest lessons was flexibility.
You can work virtually as a telephone representative or write blog posts for cash. If you work as a freelancer, you can choose your workload and hours. Consider looking for opportunities on sites like ProBlogger or Flexjobs.
Plan Meals at Home
When you’re working hard and stressed out, a sandwich for dinner from a nearby shop sounds like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more expensive than making a similar sandwich at home.
Consider planning meals in advance and cooking at home. You’ll find it’s much less expensive to buy the ingredients for your favorite meals than to get them as takeout. If you plan your menu around inexpensive foods like rice, beans, and meats that are on sale, you can save even more.
Evaluate How You Think About Money
Your mental and emotional attitudes about money have big impacts on how you feel during tough times. If you’re working on improving your financial wellness during a difficult time, it might be helpful to uncover money beliefs and unconscious attitudes that affect your finances.
Sometimes a quiz is all it takes to discover some surprising roadblocks that exist in your own mind. Not allowing your emotions to take control of your decisions is another important skill to develop.
The good news is that this internal work is entirely within your control. There’s no reason you can’t start today.
You Can Manage Healthcare and Finances
Keeping your finances healthy is a significant challenge. Fortunately, there are a lot of strategies you can use to access affordable healthcare and save up for important expenses.
As your financial health improves, it’s likely you’ll have fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other health issues. This can make it easier to make good decisions, which then improves your health further.
If you’re ready to improve your health and finances, take action today!