by Brooke Faulkner
Healthcare is a necessity for most individuals, however, not everyone can afford health insurance. For a number of those who are able to get insurance, they still can’t afford to pay for the level of coverage they need. This puts people at risk in the event of a medical emergency.
In a medical emergency, people often end up having to opt for emergency medical care. This can be financially exhausting for hospitals and also put extra pressure on emergency rooms. To demonstrate how financially exorbitant it is, during the year that the Affordable Care Act was passed, hospitals provided around $40 billion worth of care they weren’t paid for. In some cases, hospitals will still try to bill a patient who seeks treatment but doesn’t have insurance.
If you don’t have insurance or what you do have isn’t adequate, looking after your health should be a priority. Preventative care is a way to lower the likelihood of you ending up in the emergency room because of a preventable illness. Here are a few ways that you can improve your health and hopefully, stay out of the hospital. You’ll also find tips regarding what you can do in the event that you need care and don’t have insurance.
The Importance of Preventative Care
You can’t predict what direction your health will go in, but you can influence the chances of a positive outcome. A way of doing this would be by taking preventative measures. This is something that should be considered whether you have insurance or not as poor health can negatively impact all aspects of your life. For those without insurance, in particular, leading a healthier life could mean worrying less about how you can fund a sudden or recurring illness.
Lifestyle Changes You Can Make
No matter how old you are, there are several things that you can do to improve your health. Below, you’ll find a few suggestions that could increase your chances of staying healthy and avoiding the emergency room.
Health and exercise are somewhat synonymous. For this reason, it’s difficult to have a conversation about health without touching on the importance of being active. If you’re wondering why exercise is always recommended, it can combat health conditions as well as diseases. For instance, being active boosts your “good” cholesterol, thus preventing conditions like high blood pressure.
If you aren’t keen on physical activity, the good thing is that you don’t have to dedicate hours on end to fitness every day. Doctors suggest that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. However, if you can handle intensive exercise, then it goes down to 15 minutes daily. So that you’re exercising consistently, consider incorporating it into your daily routine. For instance, you could jog to work if it isn’t too far away or use the gym during your lunch break. In addition to helping prevent health conditions, exercise is also a way of managing existing ones.
Healthy eating is another way to keep your body in shape that could be obvious to some. What you eat greatly influences your health, so make a conscious effort to choose nutritious foods. This doesn’t mean denying yourself of your favorite foods completely. It means finding healthy alternatives to ones that could cause issues in the long-term. For instance, you could decide to grill your chicken instead of frying it or start buying fresh foods instead of processed ones.
Don’t forget to include carrots in your diet so that you can maintain healthy eyes. Millions of Americans have some form of vision problems and it can be pricey to treat if you’re uninsured. Other ways to look after your eyes besides eating carrots are to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
In addition to watching what you eat, cut back on high-risk behaviors like smoking and drinking. These habits can cause illnesses longterm that could affect your lungs, veins, and liver. You should note that there is free health screening available so you can check to make sure you don’t have an undiagnosed illness.
Look After Your Mental Health
Your mental health counts as part of your health too, so don’t neglect it. If you aren’t sure how to take care of your mental health, it is about learning to take care of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
That said, one way to look after your mental health is by learning to manage stress. To manage stressors in your daily life, try finding healthy distractions like keeping a gratitude journal or volunteering. These are things that could help remind you of the good happening around you and the things to be thankful for.
Not finding effective ways of managing stress can lead to sleep deprivation. It can also increase the chances of you suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia. This can have negative effects on your mental health as you may often feel depressed and on edge. For this reason, you should seek the advice of a doctor as they can offer appropriate advice and treatment. Sleep disorders aren’t something to take lightly as if left untreated, they can result in behavioral issues, heart attacks, high blood pressure, or strokes.
When you look after your body, you’re also looking after your mind. This is why watching what you eat is a form of preventative mental health care as well. Eating junk food can lead to inflammation in your body which affects your brain’s stress levels directly. Likewise, exercise is vital to keep endorphins flowing and your emotional health balanced. A final tip for looking after your mental health is to take a few minutes a day to meditate. It can help ward off negative thoughts and give you a more positive outlook.
Alternatives to Insurance
If you’re wondering what you can do if you can’t afford insurance, know that there are a few options for you to explore. Firstly, if you’re in urgent need of care, you have the option of emergency care. This means you can walk into any hospital and they cannot refuse to treat you.
In less severe cases where you have a minor illness or injury, you can always visit a free clinic. This will come at no cost as it’s funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program. There are almost 12,000 in the U.S., District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories, so check to see if there’s one near you.
If you can afford to pay something for healthcare, an option is a retail walk-in clinic. There are almost 3,000 operating in the U.S. and they offer treatment services for 30-40% lower than if you went to the doctor for treatment. Retail clinics are also suitable if you have an emergency and you’d pay up to 8% less than you would if you went to a hospital. Similarly, urgent care centers offer non-emergency care at relatively affordable rates too.
For those that are adamant about getting health insurance, Medicaid gives low-cost insurance if you’re a low-income family, have a disability, are elderly, or are pregnant. You could also try short-term health insurance that provides coverage for up to 364 days depending on what state you’re in. Supplemental insurance products can be taken into consideration too if you’d rather choose from standalone products.
We don’t yet live in a country where health insurance is something that is easily accessible to everyone. In the meantime, you can make efforts to look after your health and make the most of the options available to you.