Navigating the American Healthcare System – For many people, the United States healthcare system can be unnecessarily complicated and can often leave them with insufficient care or crippling medical debt. Trying to navigate this system in a way that allows us to receive medical care we can actually afford can be frustrating, stressful, and at times seem impossible.
But fortunately, there are some ways to help you get by in this system. There are certain programs in place to help that many of us simply aren’t aware of, as well as some tricks to lowering your medical costs. Finding proper and affordable healthcare can be a pain, but it can be done if you know your way around the system.
Under the American healthcare system, insurance is vital. Medical prices are far too high for most people to afford, thus insurance companies are needed to offset that cost. So choosing which insurance company and policy you sign up with is extremely important.
Many companies will offer health insurance to employees as part of their worker’s benefits. This can be incredibly convenient but can also come with some limitations. You’ll have to research the insurance company and the specific policy your workplace offers to see if it covers your preferred doctors and ay medications you need. If not, you may have to consider switching doctors or medication brands or even refusing your job’s offered insurance to opt for purchasing
your own private insurance plan instead.
If you’re looking to sign up for a health insurance plan independent from your place of work, there are many options you need to consider. Take your time researching different insurance companies and comparing their prices, what different plans they have available, and their range of coverage. Again, not every doctor, hospital, and medication will be covered by certain companies so make sure you know what will be available to you before signing up.
Alternative options to private or work insurance are Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is federal health insurance for people 65 and older, or for people with qualifying disabilities. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint federal and state program designed for people with limited income and resources. If you’re of the correct age, qualify for disability benefits, or receive a low income, one of these programs may be the right choice for you. Search online for Medicaid and Medicare quotes to see options and determine if you qualify.
The Hospital Business
Injuries and illnesses can happen to everyone, but for some, a brief hospital stay can leave them with terrible medical debt. As with all other aspects of healthcare though, there are some ways to navigate this.
Remember that hospitals function as businesses, not as public services, meaning they need to make a profit and so any patient is a paying customer. So when you need a hospital’s services for whatever reason, you’ll have to negotiate and deal with the financial aspect like you would with any other business.
A common tip you may have already seen on the internet is to ask for an itemized bill. When your hospital stay is over you’ll probably be handed a bill that even with insurance is outrageous. Hospitals will often upcharge for the smallest things, so if you ask for an itemized bill you’ll often find that the price may be a bit lower with certain charges being removed. You
can also contest certain charges on the bill to lower the amount you owe.
If your medical bill is still too high, ask what payment plans are available. You can often find a plan to pay off a bill a little at a time to make it a bit easier. If you find the hospital staff is unwilling to work with you, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and if it comes to it, speak to a lawyer or financial advisor about what your options are.
Lower Your Medication Cost
It’s also a good idea to learn how to lessen the cost of any medication you need. Certain medications may not be covered by your insurance, and sometimes those that are covered still come with some cost. But of course, with or without insurance, there are some ways to lower costs or even avoid paying for prescriptions.
There are many websites and organizations that offer discounts and coupons for certain prescriptions. It’s easy to sign up on these websites and usually, all you need to do is have your pharmacist scan a code on your phone to get a discount on your medication.
Certain medications also have generic versions as alternatives to the name brands. These generic brand medications are often cheaper, more likely to be covered under a wider range of insurances, and work just as well as name brands. Be sure to speak with your doctor about which generics are proper alternatives for any name-branded prescriptions you take.
The American healthcare system doesn’t always work well for everyone, but luckily there are some services and programs in place to help those who need them. Prioritize your health without compromising your budget and think carefully before making any serious decisions regarding your healthcare.