Inflation rates are not only affecting how we spend and invest…they’re also a factor in how we deal with our health.
The latest numbers from Gallup are not good, but in many cases, they’re probably not surprising. Here are a few highlights:
- The percentage of Americans reporting they or a family member postponed medical treatment in 2022 due to cost rose 12 points in one year, to 38%, the highest in Gallup’s 22-year trend.
- A new high of 35% of adults aged 18 to 49 said they or someone in their family put off care.
- 32% of women and 20% of men reported putting off medical treatment, representing a 12-point increase from 2021 for women and a five-point increase for men.
But there is a cost to delaying care – something that we all know in the abstract, but looking at actual numbers might get you to make that appointment for your yearly checkup.
Here are some scenarios to consider:
Putting off a colonoscopy
“The average cost for treating colon cancer is $60,321.” You should also factor in loss of income for treatment, decreased quality of life, and time spent on appointments.
Not treating heart disease
“Medicare estimates you will spend 60% more out of pocket annually versus someone who hasn’t had a heart attack.”
Avoiding the doctor in general
“The average person pays between $84 and $131 for a doctor’s visit before deductibles or copays. That same person will find themselves spending $98 to $163 at an urgent care center. In the ER, that same treatment would be from $358 to $1,595.”
What’s the answer?
There are many tools and resources out there to help you figure out the cost of healthcare, but ultimately you have to be your own advocate and do what’s right for you and your family. Here are some suggestions.
Understand Your Coverage
Understanding your health insurance coverage is crucial for making informed healthcare decisions. Many people, however, overlook the details of their insurance plans, leading to unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. By actively engaging with your insurance provider, reviewing policy details, and clarifying coverage questions, you can avoid surprise bills and ensure that you are utilizing your insurance benefits effectively.
Shop Around – Even If Your Company Provides Insurance
The healthcare industry is not immune to market forces, and prices for medical services can vary significantly. Yet, many individuals fail to shop around for healthcare services, accepting the first recommendation without considering alternatives. By actively seeking out cost-effective options, such as different providers or facilities, individuals can potentially save thousands of dollars on medical treatments.
Take Advantage of HSAs and FSAs
Some individuals may overlook the benefits of HSAs and FSAs as powerful tools for managing healthcare costs. By contributing to these accounts, individuals can save on taxes and allocate funds specifically for medical expenses. Failure to take advantage of these accounts means missing out on potential tax savings and having less control over healthcare-related expenditures.
An article from theSkimm reported that millennial women’s health is at an all-time low. “Fifty-seven percent said, ‘I have been dismissed or misdiagnosed by medical professionals,’ and 59% said, ‘I have sought treatment from doctors who do not believe me, or who have ignored my needs.’” Effective communication with healthcare providers is paramount to receiving the best care and avoiding unnecessary expenses.
When it comes to financially preparing for the future, it’s important to look at the big picture. By avoiding things like preventative care, you could be affecting your standard of living down the road. While healthcare can be a difficult (and confusing) road to navigate, putting your head in the sand isn’t the answer either.
And remember that should the unexpected happen, your advisor is there to help you answer questions like how to pay unexpected bills and how you might take time off to receive care. Don’t forget that we’re always a resource you can tap into.