When you’re sick, expenses can add up quickly. Treatment costs, traveling, and time off work can be hard on the bank account. This problem intensifies if you have a chronic or rare illness or an injury that requires months–or years– of treatment and rehabilitation.
While the best way to avoid these expenses is to not get sick, this is obviously an impossible and unrealistic expectation. Most people experience at least one challenging health problem in their lifetime, if not more. Luckily, there are a few ways to limit medical expenses should one of these situations arise, as long as you know how to handle them ahead of time.
Look Beyond Treatment
Doctors often prescribe medication to treat symptoms of deeper underlying issues. If you have chronic migraines, you may have to take medication so that you can proceed with your daily life. However, this approach doesn’t address what is causing the migraines in the first place, meaning you could be on medication for a long time.
Advocate for yourself in search of a cause. Different triggers elicit different reactions. Try to approach medication as a temporary measure until the root issue is found. Unfortunately, some problems do require medication for extended periods despite knowing the cause. Take high blood pressure for instance. Some people may be genetically inclined to high blood pressure, despite their activity levels and healthy eating habits. Others may be able to manage their condition in the long run with a lifestyle change.
Get Prior Authorization on Treatment Plans
Rather than getting treatment and submitting your expenses to your insurance provider after the fact, getting prior authorization ensures that your doctor is following an approved protocol that is covered by your provider. They indicate to the provider what steps they are going to take and which medication they will prescribe. Your provider will then let you know what they will cover and what they will not.
The prior authorization model is followed by a lot of modern insurance companies to ensure the services rendered are medically necessary, and that your treatment is as efficient and inexpensive as possible. It will also help you become aware of the expenses you will incur, so you can budget accordingly.
Unless you have a specialized condition, you aren’t bound to use a particular service provider. Shop around for medical insurance, doctors, and pharmacies. Larger chains of pharmacies and department stores usually have cheaper dispensary fees than smaller shops. Different doctors will have different approaches to treatment and rehabilitation for long-term illnesses and injuries. Insurance providers will have different coverage plans at various fees.
You may want to find an insurance provider with a flex plan, which allows you to shift your coverage away from services you rarely use and allocate them to services you use frequently. For example, if you have fantastic vision, but struggle with dental work, some flex plans will allow you to decrease your vision coverage and increase your dental accordingly.
When a new medication hits the market, it has a patent, so that other drug companies can’t use its proprietary blend. After a certain period, that protection expires, so other companies can come in and make a similar product with the same medicinal properties and different supporting ingredients.
For example, a brand name birth control and a generic, lesser-known brand might have the same dose of hormones, but use different binders to hold everything together. Ask about generic brands, especially if you will be taking this medication for a long time.
Find an Advocate
Depending on how you sustained your injury or what type of illness you have, there could be an organization willing to advocate for you. Various non-profit organizations help qualified individuals cover medical costs, including medicine, travel, accommodation, and specialized equipment. Some organizations will even help supplement your groceries while you are receiving treatment.
If you can’t find an advocate, be prepared to advocate for yourself. If you have concerns about your treatment, raise them. If you want to know more about your illness and potential courses of action, research them. Being vocal and proactive, while following these other recommendations, will help limit your expenses and improve your quality of life.