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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Frugal Living 101 -- Health

Healthcare costs in this country have gone through the roof, and many people feel as if they just can't afford to take good care of themselves anymore. But saving money on health costs does not mean skipping doctor visits or avoiding necessary treatments -- living simply and frugally is about developing affordable and healthy habits that keep you from needing expensive medical attention.

An Ounce Of Prevention

Ours is the only industrialized nation that does not provide health care as a right of citizenship -- you can thank the drug manufacturers, insurance companies, malpractice attorneys, and medical lobbyists for that! They've got our healthcare system in a stranglehold -- but with a little advance planning and some creative wrangling on your part, you can take care of yourself and your family without breaking the bank.

  • rethinking your medications (speaking of medications, how many are you on? -- I'm not just talking about prescription drugs, but also those over-the-counter "cures" for aches and illnesses -- I know some folks who spend a bloody fortune each month on drugs for everything that ails them -- acid reducers, heartburn relievers, and pills for indigestion -- antihistamines for allergies, asthma inhalers, and mucus eliminators -- blood thinners and clot reducers and blood pressure regulators -- pain pills and muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories -- better living through modern chemistry, right? -- we have this mistaken notion that all you need do is pop a pill to feel better -- but not only are all these concoctions expensive, they each have a side-effect that can only be alleviated by another drug -- it's easy to get caught in a vicious cycle of over-medication, even for minor complaints -- certainly don't drop a prescribed medication without talking to your doctor, especially one for a chronic and life-threatening condition -- but if your medicine cabinet looks more like a pharmacy, it's time to regain control over your health -- discuss options for reducing your dependence on chemicals, and actions you can take to try and cut down on some of these symptoms more naturally -- both your body and your bank account will thank you)
  • prescription discounts (however, when you do need a prescription to get better, you shouldn't have to pay full price -- while the drug companies simply want to get as high a profit margin as possible, pharmacies are now offering a number of programs to help offset the high cost of certain medications -- you can get basic antibiotics for free and common prescriptions for as low as $4 per refill at many locations -- be sure to shop around before you have that scrip filled -- if your insurance doesn't offer a drug discount plan or you have no insurance, consider one of the free programs like County RX Card -- they've set up agreements with different pharmacies to provide reduced rates to members, and you can get your prescriptions for as much as half off anywhere in the country -- if you don't mind paying a small amount for shipping, another great option is ordering through Canada Meds -- oftentimes, the same exact drug costs costs different amounts in different countries, thanks to the variation in laws about price caps and malpractice litigation -- services like this let you shop around and find the best deal for your prescription, then have up to 3 months' worth shipped to you -- also ask if there is a generic version available that will save you money over a brand name -- and sometimes your doctor can even help you out by changing your dosage -- for example having you take one 500 mg pill instead of two 250 mg capsules, or having you take one dose a day of a higher strength rather than three doses of a lower one might cost a lot less -- get creative about saving money on your drugs, and ask your healthcare provider to do the same)
  • pharmacy clinics (gradually, the medical community is recognizing that the high cost of doctor visits prevents a lot of people from seeking care when they need it -- pharmacies have begun to offer an alternative, in the form of nurse practitioners and physician assistants who work right at your local drugstore -- these folks are qualified to diagnose, to inoculate, to prescribe, and to refer you on to a specialist if your problem is more than minor -- you don't need an appointment, and the fees are much less expensive than a traditional doctor's office, urgent care facility, or emergency room)
  • preventative healthcare memberships (with so many people either lacking basic coverage or unable to use their insurance for anything except major medical problems, preventative care has become a real problem in this country -- fortunately, some doctors are starting to offer discount plans that function outside the realms of the insurance industry -- a perfect example is the "eyecare club" offered at America's Best -- for less than you would spend on one doctor's visit, you are provided with two free eye exams a year and a sizable discount on glasses or contacts -- and you can use those eye exams for anything from a routine checkup to an infection to an injury -- plus, with locations around the country, you don't have to worry about being charged more for seeing an "out of network" doctor that isn't covered by your insurance -- there are similar clubs popping up for basic wellness visits, dental care, and even orthodontics -- some services are free with your membership fee, others deeply discounted, but all are a great way to save on those annual appointments)
  • go the Groupon route (daily deal websites like Groupon have been offering customers discounts on restaurant meals, entertainment, and shopping for a while -- but now they also offer bargains on health care, sometimes as much as 70-90% off -- you can purchase packages that include dental x-rays/check-up/cleaning, chiropractic evaluation/adjustment, dermatology services, eye exams, and even alternative therapies like acupuncture and colon cleansing -- just be careful to read the fine print about what ELSE you might be expected to buy from that provider -- the companies advertising these deals try to screen participants, but the occasional "bait-and-switcher" does get through their filters -- however, if you ever have a problem with a provider, just contact the folks who sold you the certificate and they'll be more than happy to make things right)
  • health fairs (if you've ever seen the little healthmobile driving around your neighborhood, you've been witness to the power of portable technology -- you can have just about any kind of screening done at a health fair, without having to make an appointment and a special trip to the doctor -- everything from basics like blood pressure and cholesterol to the diagnosis of heart disease, bone density testing, mammograms, nutritional analysis, and more are available at reduced prices, and often completely free -- check your local community calendar for upcoming events, or search the web for specific types of health fairs -- one good resource is actually CVS pharmacy, which sponsors a variety of health activities around the country)
  • third-party testing (if you've ever looked at your medical bill, you'll see that lab tests are a sizable chunk of the bottom line -- doctors' offices have agreements that require them to send their blood and urine samples to certain diagnostic companies, usually thanks to contract negotiations between administrators higher up -- rarely are you informed as to the costs of these tests unless you ask, and even when you do ask, most doctors are unaware of the price tag attached to their orders -- and traditionally, you weren't given a say in which company processed your results, because the labs only dealt with doctors -- but that has changed -- now there are a number of laboratories that offer direct services to the patient -- when your doctor suggests a particular test, ask him/her to find out how much it will cost to go through their lab -- then make it clear that you would like to investigate third-party companies for a better price -- you can search the name of the test online to compare costs -- if you can save money at a discounted direct lab, have your doctor do the blood draw and mail the sample in yourself for analysis -- you can then provide the results to your physician for interpretation)
  • don't skip the check-ups (when money is tight, it's tempting to cut back on your healthcare expenses by postponing an annual preventative care appointment -- don't! -- a problem that might be detected now is going to be much less expensive to address while it's still minor than if it goes undiagnosed for a few months or a few years -- this is true of eye disease, cavities, gingivitis, cancer, and most degenerative diseases -- early detection is always better, both for your long-term well-being and your wallet -- saving money at the expense of your health is never a good deal -- think of it like getting regular oil changes and tune-ups for your car -- if you skip them, the consequences can be both costly and catastrophic)

read the original post of this blog

posted on: 8/9/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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