For those who have health insurance just as much as those who don't: you've probably already seen some of the [often cost-oriented] changes brought about by the implementation of Obamacare, and believe it or not, more and more changes are going to continue to roll out throughout 2013. From tax increases to Medicaid payments, sometimes we don't realize just how much these amendments are going to affect us until they're in full-swing. Couple that with the fact that health insurance premiums rise every year, and you've got the perfect recipe for throwing your family finances off-track with just one trip to the hospital.
Needless to say, families on tight budgets need to prepare for medical costs to rise even more. What can we, the people, do to avoid complete debilitation?
Insurance on the Rise
For many families, once affordable health insurance premiums have gone up by almost a quarter or more for the past few years and show no signs of stopping. It might seem minimal on the paycheck-to-paycheck scale – maybe 20 or 30 extra bucks– the accumulation certainly makes its way into the thousands by the end of the year. Consider the costs of deductibles for each member of the household, co-pays, prescription costs – you get the idea – and you're pretty far in the financial hole.
What we can Do
The hard truth is that, unfortunately, there's not much we can do to lower the yearly cost of health insurance (without, of course, taking on a lower yearly salary). But we certainly can reduce the risk of suddenly being struck with higher costs in unexpected places.
In the current economy, it's never a bad idea to consider stockpiling medical supplies in case their prices should spike. Anyone who is diabetic should consider – when possible – buying an excess of diabetic testing supplies, syringes, and insulin and setting them aside [most insulin stays usable for up to two years]. The insulin could be rotated in and out, with a constant extra stock should it suddenly become more expensive, or worse, your family loses coverage. Use your insurance discounts while you have them, since you never know when they could be affected. This is also true for other types of medical supplies that need to be consistently purchased – eyeglasses, catheters, or anything else.
It's also a good idea to keep a savings account for solely medical expenses. You never know when an unfortunate diagnosis could come along, and it's better to be able to pay for at least some of it than be stuck with a lifetime of bills.
Finally, always make sure to check your records to ensure that all medical bills are accurate. There is a surprising amount of error in the medical billing industry, and an equally surprising number of patients who don't look into it. Should they all be correct, don't be afraid to get on a payment plan; medical bills rarely accrue interest, and it can be made manageable.