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Money Saving Tips on Healthcare

August 13, 2013

There is no doubt that healthcare is expensive and not everyone has a job that offers healthcare benefits. With unemployment rates being so high, there are thousands of people who are at risk for adverse health effects related to joblessness, including stress, depression and increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. To make matters even worse, a person without a stable income frequently forgoes health insurance, thus creating barriers to get the proper medical care he or she needs.

Often times when people have fallen upon hard times, they do not know where to turn for assistance other than a food pantry or soup kitchen. One of the most important places a person should turn to for help is his or her local Goodwill, whose mission is to help out-of-work individuals find family sustaining employment. In the interim, here are money-saving tips for accessing healthcare services while unemployed.

Types of Health Insurance

Everyone should have some type of health insurance, even if it is minimal, to provide basic health coverage and peace of mind.

Depending on your age, health, employment, affiliations, dependency status and financial resources, there can be more than one potential source for healthcare coverage. Obtaining coverage for healthcare from a single primary source is common, although coverage can be maximized by combining sources. The two most common types of insurance are private, employer-sponsored coverage and government-sponsored social insurance programs.

Group healthcare plans that are sponsored by an employer are the most common healthcare coverage source for working individuals and their families. The spouse and children of the worker can be covered under these plans, which are often free, or only require that partial payment be made by the employee.

The government provides publicly-run insurance coverage for senior citizens and low-income people meeting certain financial criteria. Under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, most medical expenses are partially, if not entirely, covered.

The Cost of Testing

Many people just accept what the doctor or dentist tell them. They do not question whether the tests or procedures are absolutely necessary, how much they cost, or if a similar (but less expensive) test or procedure is available.

Even those with insurance coverage that pay out of pocket as a result of a high deductible can be charged more for procedures. Insurance companies negotiate rates with physicians; the statements from your insurance company will verify this. The allowed amount listed is often less than the full charge from the doctor.

Many people choose to go to a free community-based medical clinic or a clinic that charges on a sliding scale, meaning you pay only what you can afford. Often times the charge is nothing, or as little as five dollars for the visit. If you need a prescription, most clinics have trial samples that they will give you for free, instead of you having to pay for the prescription at a pharmacy.

If you need dental work done, search for a free or low-cost dental clinic in your area.  Alternatively, if you are live near a dental school, call and ask them what services they offer. Most dental schools provide fillings and extractions and some even do minor surgical procedures such as root canals. The cost is usually very low because by opting to have services performed at a dental school, you are actually helping well-trained dental students hone their skills.

Unemployment and other life stressors have a significant impact on both physical and mental health, so continued healthcare is essential to your well-being and your ability to find and keep a job.  If you are facing unemployment challenges, contact your local Goodwill to learn how you can benefit from their career development services, job resource centers and on-the-job training programs. You will be provided with the help that you need to get back on your feet and become part of the workforce again!

Tammy Mahan has worked in the healthcare field for 20 years. She enjoys writing health articles for Healthline.com in her free time.

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