It seems that pennies have to be pinched harder than ever these days, with healthcare being no exception. While sitting back and waiting for the government to fix things is probably not going to bear fruit, there are a few ways to reduce the amount you’ll have to spend on essential medical care during your lifetime.
A Stitch in Time
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other “lifestyle” diseases are some of the most prevalent medical conditions in the U.S. – and yet they are largely preventable simply through eating well and exercising regularly.
Medication and surgery can do only so much once a problem has reached serious proportions; the way to be healthy is actually just to live healthily. Curbing your consumption of alcohol and tobacco, eating more vegetables and less packaged food, and engaging in exercise two to five times a week costs little and is sure to make you live longer.
Prevention is indeed better than cure, and as healthcare costs continue to rise, we can expect to see more people spending on personal trainers and nutritionists in preference to M.Ds.
Online Mental Health Counseling
As with many medical conditions, leaving a psychological illness untreated will often simply cause it to worsen and possibly allow a relatively minor problem to develop into something much worse. Mental health issues are typically very poorly covered by insurance, while the sheer amount of training needed to become a licensed counselor means that consulting a mental health professional isn’t cheap.
Until recently, that is. Online counseling services now provide an alternative way of treating mental illness, depression and anxiety without breaking the bank. With large numbers of sufferers previously unable to access effective treatment, this can only be a good thing.
This kind of talk therapy generally takes place via text chat, with the option of scheduling a phone conversation or video conference also being available. As it turns out, research indicates that online therapy is just as effective as physical treatment sessions for any condition not requiring medication or in-patient care.
Heading for Foreign Shores
Healthcare in America is extremely expensive compared to other countries with similar standards of treatment. The reasons for this are complex, but it is a fact that many people are now seeking treatment they could otherwise not afford as part of an international holiday.
Known as “medical tourism,” this process is facilitated by specialist agencies which, among other things, verify that treatment centers and doctors are properly accredited. Large numbers of Americans have already taken advantage of this option for everything from dentistry to cosmetic procedures to organ transplants.
There are indeed some disadvantages to choosing to look for treatment abroad. For one thing, the standard of treatment may or may not be the best available, making it essential to do thorough research beforehand. Medical malpractice legislation is also typically different in other countries, so you may be left with a botched procedure and no legal recourse. It might be difficult finding appropriate follow-up care once back in the States, while your insurer may or may not be willing to accommodate you.
* * *
Someone who urgently needs medical care but can’t afford it is in an invidious position. In years to come, we may be seeing a massive shift from reactive medicine to an approach that places much more emphasis on “wellness” in its various aspects, including a focus on prevention. Alternative or complementary therapies, from the WHO-approved to the basically wacky, can be expected to become even more popular. Just perhaps, if we are very lucky, we may see structural changes in the medical industry that will actually end up lowering healthcare costs.