Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a job that comes with a benefits package and with the economy being what it is, not everyone can afford good health insurance. Research has shown that people without health insurance tend to have health problems more often, and not get the assistance needed soon enough. So how is someone who can’t afford to be sick supposed to cope? Though options are limited, there are options. Here’s my first hand tips on staying healthy without the aid of insurance.
1. Sometimes prevention is the best medicine.
The first step to staying healthy is to not get sick, of course. While everyone is going to experience sickness at some point in their lives, many ailments and illnesses can be prevented with proper nutrition and exercise. Foods high in refined sugars and fats can take a toll on your immune system, so your body is less likely to be able to fight off that cold bug that’s going around the office. I suggest using a website like Sparkpeople to track your nutritional and fitness goals, no matter what they may be. They also have a great community for support and tons of informational resources.
2. Mental health is important too.
Like a fatty and sugary diet excessive amounts of “bad” stress can lower your immune system as well. Keep procrastination at bay by using a day planner, you’ll be less likely to find yourself stressed by being late or missing that important appointment. Be sure to schedule a little time for yourself each day, to unwind and prioritize. If you find yourself under excessive amounts of stress, look into seeing a therapist or counselor. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. Many universities have a counseling center that offers counseling to non-students for as little as a few dollars per session, or you can contact your local Mental Health Center and ask about seeing a counselor. You can also check out online support communities such as Daily Strength, which offers online support groups for everything from stress to depression and anxiety to eating disorders and terminal and life affecting illnesses.
3. Recognize the power of prayer
According to Prevention magazine, some studies have shown that regular religious practice or spiritual practice is linked to lower blood pressure, better immunity, less depression, and greater longevity. So strike those prayer poses and embrace your higher power. Not a prayer person? Try taking five minutes a day to devote to clearing your mind and practicing some deep breathing. You’ll be amazed at the benefits.
4. Research your options.
Contact your local Department of Health or check the yellow pages to explore what options are available to low-income families for when you do get sick. Many cities have walk-in clinics where you can see a doctor for around $60 a visit. If that’s too pricey for you, state run charity clinics and university hospitals are also an option. Many also provide prescription programs where you can receive your medications at a discounted rate or even at no cost depending on your need. Universities are also a great resources for dental or eye care, as many schools offer discounted rates for work done by students. (Just for an added bonus: You can get discounted hair cuts from cosmetology schools too.)
5. Arrive early.
Always arrive early for your appointments, especially when dealing with university run clinics or hospitals. There are always cancellations, and you may be able to get in to see the doctor early. No one wants to spend their day sitting in a crowded waiting room when they aren’t feeling well.
6. Don’t wait.
Don’t put off seeking medical attention. Make arrangements as soon as you begin to see signs of a problem. Early detection can mean the difference between taking a few medications and a hospital stay.
I hope this has been useful. There are lots of health care options for low-income families and those without insurance. I have only mentioned a few here. Research the options that are available locally to you before making a decision.