If you’re worried about the cost of medical care, you are not alone. A poll of 3,000 women found that nearly half are extremely concerned about rising health care costs. And the more costly medical care becomes, the less likely people may be able to carry health insurance or seek care when they need it.
Even in difficult times, there are things you can do to ease the burden on your wallet and take care of your family.
- Adopt healthy habits. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Eat low-fat foods, whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Don’t use tobacco. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. These actions may help you avoid the need for medical care.
- Ask for less expensive medications. Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs. “Generic drugs are less expensive than brand-name drugs and are equally effective," said Dr. Kristin Hampshire, a Sharp-affiliated physician in the Family Medicine Department at Sharp Rees-Stealy Scripps Ranch.
- Don’t cancel your medical visits. “Continuing your visits for chronic conditions can help you stay healthy and prevent serious and costly medical issues from arising,” said Dr. Hampshire.
- Don’t stop taking your medication. If your doctor has prescribed a maintenance medication, don’t stop taking it to cut costs. Not taking your medication can be costly and hazardous to your health. Don’t stop just because you feel better; follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Make the most of your doctor’s visit. Plan ahead and create a list of questions and concerns for your doctor. “Your primary care doctor can take care of many of your medical needs and refer you to the appropriate specialists, if required,” said Dr. Hampshire.
- Seek preventive care. Preventive services such as flu shots, mammograms and blood pressure checks can help prevent disease and lead to early detection. Follow your doctor's advice about how to decrease your risk for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Stay insured. If possible, find a way to keep some kind of health care insurance, such as COBRA, through your employer or select an individual plan that offers catastrophic coverage. High medical bills are one of the top 10 reasons people file for bankruptcy.