3 Ways to Save on Your Family Health Care This Year
For American families in the modern economy, it doesn’t matter how much income you expect to earn this year or how well you think you have your expenses under control. We all know circumstances can change in an instant, so being budget-conscious is the smartest and most effective way to handle family finances.
The dramatically rising cost of healthcare is just one example of the unpredictability of month-to-month financial planning. While we unfortunately cannot control the overall rise in healthcare costs, we can manage our own family’s spending.
As a busy mom with many other things vying for your attention, how can you easily save on your family’s healthcare this year without sacrificing the quality of care?
Here are three quick tips that should help you do just that:
Focus on prevention
It may be cliche, but “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” still proves true across the board.
From a health perspective, there are a number of simple habits and standard wellness visits you can establish and maintain in your family to make sure everyone’s health is as strong and resilient as possible. This, in turn, will lead to lower healthcare bills throughout the year, not to mention a healthier, happier family.
Rather than taking all of these tasks on yourself, involve the whole family. Make it a fun challenge or contest with the kids to see who can do the best at carrying out these recommendations:
- Encourage everyone to wash their hands before every meal, after every trip to the bathroom, and after blowing their nose.
- Make antibacterial hand sanitizer available for when hand washing is too inconvenient. Keep some in the car, out on the back porch, and in your purse.
- Anytime a family member is sick, practice smart quarantine procedures. No, they shouldn’t need to be outcasts for the duration of their illness, but it would wise to keep their cups, silverware, tissues, and anything else they’ve regularly touched out of reach of other family members. Remember to take special care that a sick family member and their caregivers are extra careful about hand washing.
- Routinely disinfect all surfaces notorious for carrying germs: kitchen counters, cutting boards, faucet handles, door handles, computer keyboards, etc.
- Enforce seat belt use — even in the back seat — at all times.
- Minimize potential slip/trip/fall hazards by keeping stairways and walkways clear of clutter, blocking off wet floors, and routinely inspecting the home and surrounding property for dangerous situations.
- Keep household cleaners and other potentially dangerous chemicals out of the reach of young children.
- Encourage the entire family to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as a daily multivitamin. Many different vitamins and minerals help contribute to a healthy and strong immune system.
- Make sure everyone’s up to date on vaccines, including the annual flu vaccine.
- Most primary care physicians recommend at least one annual physical examination to make sure all your bloodwork and other vital signs are looking good and to answer any questions you might have. These visits are generally fully covered by insurance, or are available with a small copay. If you have no insurance, most doctors charge a reduced fee for this kind of visit versus a visit based around an illness.
- Make sure each member of the family is scheduled for any important visits beyond the annual checkup, based on their age, sex, and health circumstances as well.
Take advantage of community or charity events
In most communities, there are free and low-cost health care programs available either on a continuous basis or at special times throughout the year. If your circumstances are such that insurance and/or paying full price out-of-pocket for the care your family needs would be a hardship, you likely qualify for most, if not all, of these programs.
Take full advantage of any assistance you can get by obtaining annual check-ups, immunizations, specific health screenings, and other necessary care for your family through these programs. Contact your local city or county health department for details on what’s available in your area.
Use valuable discount programs
Although the cost of medical care continues to rise, and the cost of quality insurance goes hand-in-hand with that trend, discount programs are different.
A discount program allows people the ability to access a network of participating doctors and medical practices that are willing to provide their goods or services at a discounted rate. Usually, the program is membership-based with a monthly or annual membership fee required. However, this cost is usually far lower than monthly insurance premiums.
For example, some dental discount programs provide 20%-50% off general and advanced dental services for less than $10 per month for the entire household. These programs can be expanded to include discounts toward prescription medications, vision care, and a whole suite of wellness services.
For the large number of families who earn too much to get help from government or community programs, but who still struggle to pay for and use full-scale medical and dental insurance, discount programs offer a fantastic alternative for getting the health care families needs without breaking the bank.
If you’re concerned about keeping the family’s budget under control while also making sure everyone has the health care they need, bookmark these tips and take another look when you have a few minutes to make notes or discuss them with the family.