Staying Healthy During a Tough Economy

 

Dr. Andrea Weed, Internal Medicine Physician and Chief of Medical Staff at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, talks about encouraging patients to maintain good health even during financially tough times.

When money is tight, our tendency is to cut costs in every aspect of life. However, we need to remind the community to continue to make good health a priority. The economic downturn has meant real pain for families and communities. For many, a pink slip also means losing vital health coverage and represents tough choices about family healthcare.

Be careful of the dangers of putting off or canceling required treatment and regular testing. I can’t emphasize enough about the importance of staying on top of daily medications. Some people are going to extremes by not filling prescription drugs, cutting pills in half, postponing doctors’ appointments or even skipping them all together to avoid extra expenses. While it may result in some financial savings in the short run, your overall health may suffer, resulting in more severe health issues and larger medical bills down the road.

What should you do?

1. Talk to your healthcare provider – If patients cannot afford to pay for their medical expenses due to factors such as lack of insurance or unemployment, financial counselors are available to help them arrange a payment plan. Patients should never ignore their medical bills and feel like there is no other option because they can’t pay. There are resources available to ensure patients receive the support they need.

2. Don’t put off your annual screenings, lab tests or physician appointments. Monitoring your daily health and well-being can lead to earlier detection of possible diseases or long term health issues, dramatically reducing the cost of your overall healthcare.

3. Take advantage discounted lab tests for underinsured and uninsured patients. Most hospitals offer these special discounts and affordable lab tests can keep you on track and in charge of your health. Remember that many illnesses or disease are preventable and much easier to treat in the early stages – not to mention much less expensive.