No one likes to deal with expenses, including the inevitable type. And if there is one category of expenses that can easily get out of hand, it’s medical expenses. A good 74% of Americans have seen their health care costs rise in recent years, and that isn’t necessarily a sign that they are facing new medical problems.
Unsurprisingly, more than 25% of American adults struggle to meet their medical bills, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and that statistic is by no means limited to uninsured people. On the contrary, countless people with insurance companies are also struggling to pay for their health care. In fact, medical debt has become the Reason n ° 1 why Americans are being forced into bankruptcy.
The problem has become so serious that 53% of Americans are now convinced that having a medical bill they cannot afford is just as serious as being diagnosed with a serious illness. Even more worryingly, 10% believe that receiving a medical bill they cannot afford is worst than being diagnosed with a serious illness.
But while it’s easy to point the finger at rising health care costs, the truth is that most Americans are not taking steps to be able to cover these bills. In one recent study37% of adults said they did not have the funds to cover an unexpected medical bill that was over $ 100. And the problem is even more prevalent among women, with 44% of women admitting that they would consider taking on debt by receiving a bill for that amount, compared to 27% of men.
It all comes down to one thing: Americans need to do a better job of putting money aside for medical care. And the sooner they do, the less they’ll end up putting their finances – and their health – at risk.
Building a financial safety net
We are told to raise enough emergency savings to cover at least three months of living expenses, and there’s a reason for that. You never know when you might lose your job or run into an unexpected bill that your typical paychecks can’t cover, like a huge tab from your local hospital or healthcare provider. Unfortunately, many people who have insurance are subject to high deductibles – deductibles they are forced to meet before their insurance starts paying for key services. If you are one of them, it is imperative that you at least have the value of your franchise in immediate savings, even if you may not be able to accumulate enough money to meet that three month goal.
But most Americans are not close in this regard. More than half of adults have less than $ 1,000 in the bank, while 39% have no savings to show. Therefore, building that safety net is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from rising medical costs.
Keep your healthcare costs manageable
Aside from saving money, there are other steps you can take to ease the burden of paying for health care. For one thing, shop around if you are covering the cost of your own insurance plan. Sometimes it’s better to pay a higher premium for greater coverage than to pay less each month in premium expenses, but more out of pocket. Plus, always try to find the cheapest prescription drugs available. This could mean ordering your medications in 90-day supplies, instead of renewing your prescriptions every month. It could also mean asking your doctor to prescribe generics, which can cost a fraction of brand name drugs.
You can also reduce your health care costs by contributing to a flexible expense account or health savings account. Both types of accounts are funded in pre-tax dollars, which translates into instant savings on the money you’ll spend on medical care anyway.
Finally, be sure to anticipate health problems before they get worse and become more expensive to treat. A bad cut that doesn’t look right can cost you a co-payment of $ 25 and a prescription of $ 10 if you go to a doctor for immediate examination. But if you let that turn into a major infection, you could end up with a bill of over $ 1,000, which policyholders pay on average for a hospital stay.
For better or worse, health care is a major expense that won’t go away anytime soon. But if you save appropriately and learn how to manage your medical care better, you won’t have to fear these looming bills to an extreme unhealthy level.