Between the 2016 presidential campaign and the ObamaCare open enrollment period, rising healthcare costs have dominated the news for months. If you’re on a tight budget and need to keep doctor and pharmacy visits to a minimum, here are some tips that can help prevent you from having to use your health insurance.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation is “the body’s response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals,” said health.com. “When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues.”
So if you cut your finger, swelling, redness, and warmth indicate that your body is sending white blood cells and nutrients to the cut to repair it. Once the cut is under control, inflammation goes away. Likewise, when you’re stressed out, your body releases C-reactive proteins into your bloodstream, so you can handle the situation. But if you’re always stressed out, your C-reactive protein levels stay elevated. This can lead to short- and long-term health problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
According to Time magazine, certain nutrients “fight inflammation by ‘turning off’ inflammatory genes,” so you should incorporate more of the following in your diet.
- Berries, such as blueberries
- Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
- Fatty fish, such as wild salmon
- Olive oil
- Flax seeds
Researchers have found that sitting too long increases inflammation, hunger, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It also causes obesity, back pain, tight hip flexors, weak glutes, and sore shoulders. Consequently, desk jockeys should vacate their chair at least every half hour, even if it’s to go to the bathroom or to grab a green tea from the break room refrigerator.
“Even fidgeting and stretching your arms and legs in your seat helps improve the tissue quality of tight muscles, returning them to their natural state,” Time said.
You’ve probably heard that some people undergo cosmetic surgery in foreign countries to cut costs, but if you need blood work, an MRI, or preventative screening, such as a mammogram, Healthline suggested calling a few local facilities to see what they charge for the procedure. You might be surprised how prices vary within your own zip code.
Do the same when you need to fill a prescription. Target and Wal-Mart may offer lower generic drug prices than pharmacies.
That being said, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about generic and over-the-counter alternatives, “especially if it’s a supplement, like a prenatal vitamin or iron pill, or medication for a gastrointestinal problem,” Healthline said.
Do What Your Doctor Tells You to Do
One-fifth of patients never fill their prescription, per Healthline. “Half of them don’t take it correctly, and half don’t refill it.” Refusing to follow directions could land you back in your doctor’s office or worse.
Check Your Bill for Mistakes
Medical Billing Advocates of America told Healthline that nearly 80 percent of medical bills contain mistakes from doctor’s offices, labs, and other healthcare facilities. Question charges you don’t understand, dispute the ones you don’t feel you should have to pay, and be persistent. Silence from the healthcare facility doesn’t necessarily mean it took care of the charge. It may mean your bill was sent to collections.
Switch to a High-Deductible Health Plan
Yes, you have to pay more before your insurance coverage kicks in, but your monthly payments will be lower, said Healthline. Before you change your policy, make sure you have enough money in savings to cover the deductible in case you have an emergency and need to use your insurance.