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  • In Australia they force you into private health care the minute you earn over a certain amount of money, otherwise you have to pay 1% of your total income in tax. Regardless of this, your health is of the utmost importance and everyone should be trying their best to look after themselves.

    • I think that’s the route they are looking to eventually have here. I don’t like the government telling me what to do, but people need to have some sort of coverage. It costs the system too much for those who choose not to and end up with a huge bill they can’t pay.

  • Kim, these are all great tips! As you know I’ve had two surgeries recently. I wish I had gotten my allergies tested and treated better – I might have been able to skip these two surgeries because my sinuses would not have been so swollen from allergies. I’d say people should not hesitate taking preventative care if they know something is wrong. Routine physicals are a great way of accomplishing this!

  • Great tips Kim. When I was in college, I definitely used the schools of optometry and dental hygiene. They were easy, cheap, and always looking for people to fill their schedules. Also, thanks for reminding me that I really need to get in to see the dentist and the eye doctor. I will put that on my “to do” list.

  • I highly recommend the minute clinics. If you have something common like strep they can get you the test, diagnosis, and prescription you need at a fraction of the cost.

  • Moneycone says:

    And if you *are* insured, don’t forget about HSAs and FSAs!

    • I think the HSA is one of the best things to come along in health care in the last decade. Granted, there isn’t much to write home about, but definitely use those plans if they are available to you.

  • Matt Becker says:

    Great stuff here. Avoiding healthcare is a lot like avoiding retirement savings. If you put it off today, it’s just more likely that it will be much worse to deal with tomorrow. I think that the growth in alternative options like the ones you’ve mentioned can only be good. As consumers, we need to be more conscious of what we spend on our healthcare, not to avoid it but to make sure we’re getting it at a fair price.

    • Health care is one of the few things I can think of that doesn’t have a price people can see beforehand. I know things can change and be worse than you expect, but you should be able to call and ask how much it’s going to cost to have your gall bladder removed or similar.

  • AverageJoe says:

    I’m part of our health care coalition (representing a non-profit) and I never knew just how much the county health department does. It was surprising to see them involved in teaching young moms about car seats, kids about healthy eating, and doing wellness and blood pressure checks.

    • Joe, I was on a similar committee, and learned about tons of resources many people have no clue about. If only there was a better way to spread the word and not make it a stigma to visit the county health department.

  • Luckily we don’t have to pay for any of this in Canada, but using employment benefits (or getting employment that has benefits) is another way to save on extra costs.

    • I know people who only will take a job with benefits, but more and more employers are scaling back due to costs. My husband used to pay nothing, but is copays and deductibles have gone way up over the years, but it’s still better than nothing.

  • Jai Catalano says:

    So true. I always say I got married for the insurance and my wife for the tax credit. :)

  • I think healthcare coverage is imperative, but some people just can’t afford it. They have to make a choice to either have coverage or eat. Most people will choose to eat. It is sad, but if you can get something, it will be better than nothing.

    • I think there are cases where that is certainly true, however, many people could afford it but choose not to. If you are really poor, likely you qualify for a state program. If you smoke or have another expensive habit and don’t have insurance, that’s your choice. You could afford it.

  • Jake @ Common Cents Wealth says:

    These are all great ways to save money. I think preventative care is the biggest one and most often overlooked. People don’t normally go to the doctor unless they’re actually sick (myself included), but it’s much cheaper to prevent an illness rather than just treat it after you get it.

  • Great tips Kim! I’m Canadian so I don’t worry too much about healthcare but I agree that being proactive and staying healthy is essential!

  • “… if you use some of John’s budgeting advice, I’m sure there is a way to fit it in.” While John’s budgeting advice is indeed excellent, this is a rather cavalier statement! There’s a reason medical expenses are the #1–by far–cause of bankruptcy in the US: People can’t afford health insurance, or the insurance they can afford has poor coverage. It’s easy to criticize as irresponsible folks who don’t have health insurance, but when you have to choose among shelter, heat, food and health insurance, it’s any easy–though as you rightly point out, risky–choice. And in the real world, many do have to make such a choice. Sad, but true…

    • I completely agree, but I see people every day who do not have insurance because it’s a choice. There was a lady I go to exercise class with who wrecked her Harley recently, broke her pelvis, and had a severe head injury. No insurance. If you can buy a Harley, you can afford insurance. Even if someone gave it to you, you an sell it and buy insurance. If you truly are poor, you should qualify for Medicaid under the new health care laws. That wasn’t always the case, but it’s entirely based on income now. I’m sure there are people in bad situations, but I would say the majority choose not to buy insurance or don’t know how to look for a plan if their employer doesn’t offer it.

  • Taking care of your health is so important. And sadly, it’s something many people don’t think about until something happens and their in a pinch, a bit like savings. I definitely agree there is a subset of uninsured who could afford it if they made it a priority. I also think there is a small subset that makes too much to qualify for assistance but that wants health care and generally struggles to afford it.

    • The sad thing is it’s not a priority. You get nothing from having health insurance and you try to never use at. At least with car or home insurance, we get something to drive or live in. However, it’s worth way more if you do have a catastrophic accident or illness.

  • Good article Kim! I am trying to do everything I can to live a healthier and balanced lifestyle. Running more, eating less sugars and fat, getting more sleep. We also started an HSA several years ago and it has been great. We rarely go to the doctor so haven’t come close to hitting our deductibles (knock on wood). In the meantime, we have been able to save a good amount of money in the saving portion of the HSA. This year we only had to raise our deductible slightly to maintain the same monthly premiums.

    • That is a great thing about trying to be healthy. Many people do not take care of themselves and wonder why something goes wrong. Sometimes poor health isn’t fair and is certainly not your fault, but I’m going to do everything I can to make my odds better.

  • pauline says:

    I just had a free physical and blood tests in France, you can get a free check up every 5 years. Before I used to donate blood at a bank where they would give you a quick medical exam and let you know if something was wrong, but nothing will beat eating well and exercising.

  • We are covered here in Ontario under OHIP and our employers provide full benefits to us for prescriptions, massage, physiotherapy, dietician, naturopath, dentist, eye-wear etc. We don’t really get to see the costs associated with our medical visits. At least we haven’t. So far I’ve been lucky and have only been to the doctor once but other than that I take good care of my body. Keeping healthy is a great way to start. Great post Kim!! Thanks for sharing this today.

  • Greg @ Thriftgenuity.com says:

    I think staying healthy must be the #1 thing. I like the other tips like cheaper blood work. I have to admit, I’ve never not had insurance and I would likely would be pretty nervous if I found myself in that situation.

  • I recently took a client of mine to a dentistry school to have some teeth pulled. I was amazed by the level of technology at the school (far more technologically savvy than my dentist’s office). Made me think that the next time I need a cleaning I’ll go there instead. The upsides are you’re getting a lot of personalized care, in a professional setting, and the students are really eager to learn and do well. Plus if they “mess up” the profs are there to fix their mistakes.

  • Terry says:

    Another good option, if you don’t have traditional health care coverage, is to utilize the Walgreens Take Care Clinics. I have visited them for several health issues (allergies, flu, etc.) and the nurses that work there are very professional and provide great service.

  • Kim, LOVE the advice here – it’s right on the mark! We’ve used many of these tips, especially the ones about staying/keeping/getting healthy, and it’s cut down on our healthcare costs considerably. Thanks for sharing this valuable info!

  • Staying healthy should be your main priority if you really want to save money on your medical expenses. It’s not even that hard to do, for as long as you’re motivated. :)

  • Stefanie says:

    Checking local resources is always helpful. NYC has a number of programs in place for the un and underinsured. They cover dependents too!

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