Ways to Manage Your Own Healthcare Without Health Insurance
In a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, a survey showed that healthcare costs are rising while benefits are shrinking. Health premiums have risen 153.5% since 2002 which is five times the inflation rate in California. And on top of that, employers offering health insurance has dropped to 63% from 73%. In fact, 46.3 million Americans under the age of 65 do NOT have health insurance. These are scary statistics, but there are ways you can go about managing your health care without health insurance.
Groupon and Living Social are two popular daily deal sites that offer high discounts on a variety of products and services. You may have noticed the teeth cleaning and exams deals for under $50 or eye exams, chiropractic and health exams all slashed to prices way below what you would normally pay.
A ton of people without insurance have been taking advantage of these discounts which is a win win for both the health care providers and the customer. Providers get incredible exposure and consumers get to try a new service for without having to shell out big bucks. In December, Groupon offered a full medical exam for $69–a savings of over $100. Of course, make sure you check reviews about the business before purchasing the deal. You don’t want to get stuck with a shady doctor who could end up costing you more money by not giving you proper medical care.
The concept of traveling overseas to seek affordable healthcare is nothing new. Many Americans are surprised by the quality of health care in Central and South America. Doctors and healthcare facilities are top notch at a fraction of the cost in first world countries. Cosmetic, knee and hip replacements ($40k – $65k in the U.S.), operations to reduce obesity and LASIK surgeries are some of the popular procedures that people go to Brazil, Argentina or Costa Rica for. The same hip replacement surgery would only cost you $8,000 to $18,000 which includes your travel costs. Mexico may be another option and they have prescription drugs for less. But, you must have a valid prescription from your doctor before getting the procedure. Do your research and make sure you are getting the right medication and that it’s worth the cost of going down there to get it.
Health Insurance Co-ops
Another alternative is joining a co-op. These are consumer operated and owned and the costs and health insurance coverage are determined by each co-op. These non-profit organizations would provide the insurance themselves and negotiate contracts directly with providers for care. The ultimate goal of these co-ops is to provide affordable health insurance without government involvement.
Free or Low Cost Clinics
There are a number of free or low cost clinics for people who can’t afford health coverage. I wrote about Planned Parenthood in a previous blog post. You can check out a complete list of federally funded health centers at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services website.
Are you a veteran? If so, you may be able to qualify for free health care services provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. All you have to do is apply for health benefits along with proof of income and other qualifying factors.
Do you have health insurance? If not, what are some ways you get by without it?