How to Afford Your Health

We’re all asking ourselves the same question: what am I going to do about my health insurance? Answers are as hard to come by as next week’s paycheck, and easy answers have dwindled away along with our savings accounts. Don’t despair—I’m going to tell you a few things you’ll be glad to hear, a few things you’d rather not hear, and one thing you’ve been waiting a long time to hear.

You can keep costs down

Even as costs go up, you have ways to get the health care you need on the cheap. Walmart and other supermarkets, for example, have generic prescription drugs for as low as $4. With open enrollment periods going on right now, you can take advantage of new plans for you or for family members. Look at last year’s coverage—what worked? What didn’t? Are you kicking yourself for signing a service that you never needed? Now is the time to plan ahead. Tailor your plan to suit your needs, and use this opportunity to look ahead.

It’s homework time…

Now for something you’d rather not hear: you’re going to have to do some good ol’ homework. I know you left research papers behind years ago, but this research project is worth it.

First things first: plan ahead. If you’re planning on fixing your knee that you blew out during basketball or if you and your spouse are counting on a new bundle in 9 months, then you’ll want to figure in all the major medical expenses that you will have. Get rid of any coverage that you didn’t need last year—I know, I’d like to keep it, too, but pinching pennies requires some sacrifices.

Second, look at your options. It’s basic economics—who’s going to give you the most coverage for the smallest price tag? This is where most of that research is going to come in, and you’ll be glad you did it (or mad you didn’t) the next time you need to test out your deductible.

Some companies offer Preferred Provider Insurance (PPO), Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), or even a combination of the three. I’d love to be able to tell you which one is right for you, but it all depends on your circumstances. Read the pamphlets, check the websites, and make an educated decision. It’s worth every second.

A ray of hope

Good health insurance exists, you can have it, and you can afford it. While I was growing up, I always heard my dad say that insurance is like gambling: it’s like throwing money away if you don’t need it, and it’s like heaven when you do need it. You can take care of your loved ones without feeling like you’re handing your check over to the insurance companies.

Do your homework. Buy generic. Plan ahead. Spend the time to make the right decision so you don’t have to spend the money for making the wrong decision.


Jared Heath is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in medicare advantage plans and other ways help people keep a little more money in their pocket. He passionately loves his wife, his job, and his gym membership. For more crazy things that Jared can come up with, email him at


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