Medical expenses can add overwhelming debt to your budget, especially if those expenses are unexpected. Even those with good income and insurance coverage can be caught off guard by emergencies and other unexpected events. It is important to begin budgeting for healthcare before you need it, that way, when the unexpected happens you have a financial cushion available to ease your burden. It’s not just emergencies you should be concerned with either. Prevention is also important in healthcare, having a healthy lifestyle as well as frequenting online fitness sites and stores. If you are unable to obtain preventative care, you could encounter serious health problems that might have been avoidable or more easily treated if found early on.
Preventative healthcare and maintenance of health or current conditions is an important aspect of life, determining the difference between being healthy and possibly allowing conditions to go undiagnosed or untreated for far too long. Prevention means seeing doctors on a regular basis and following their guidelines. This includes visits for physicals, annual check-ups, vision care, and dental check-ups. Most of these doctor visits require you to return every six months or every year. For a healthy person, one to two years between visits is not uncommon. However, age or medical conditions can dictate a need for more frequent visits, and physicals are often necessary for jobs, sports, and other activities.
For those who do not qualify for Medicaid or prescription assistance programs, the cost of medication is an important part of your healthcare budget. Those on Medicare, with insurance, or paying 100% out-of-pocket know that medication can get expensive. Even those with good insurance coverage can wind up paying large sums in medication co-pays, and even large deductibles before some medications will be covered. And the costs for emergency medications, such as pain pills or antibiotics, can also be overwhelming to those without a financial plan that includes healthcare costs.
Not only should you include the costs of doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospitalization, and medications in your healthcare budget, but you should also include the cost of insurance premiums and co-pays. Insurance premiums are paid, depending on the carrier, on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual basis. Depending on the amount of your deductible, as well as other factors, premiums can cost quite a bit. You will also need to carefully consider your policy’s requirement for co-pays, as you will probably have to pay a portion of the cost for doctor and hospital visits, medication, medical tests, surgeries, eyeglasses, etc.
Saving for Healthcare Expenses
It is a great idea t plan ahead by including healthcare expenses in your budget. Budgeting for healthcare does not have to be complicated. Simply set aside some money in an account dedicated to medical expenses. You can do this with a regular savings account or set up an HSA (health savings account) through your job or financial institution. When budgeting for healthcare expenses, it is important to consider prevention, regular healthcare maintenance, medication costs, co-pays, insurance premiums, and emergencies. However, you should also set aside some money to handle other expense in the case of an emergency to make up for lost wages. Take a close look at your budget, figure out where you can cut other expenses, and set aside a reasonable amount out of each paycheck, or each month, to put in your healthcare savings account. While there is help through specialty insurance programs, non-profits, government agencies, and other organizations, not everyone qualifies, and it is a good idea to at least have a bit of a cushion until you can obtain some additional help.
Jonathan Kerner is a financial analyst and blogger who contributes to sites like www.moneymutualinstallmentloans.com advertising.com and offers advice on money management blogs.