Your options for Good and Affordable Health care

Jan 26, 2018,

The rise in cost of health care is quite alarming. You pay for the drugs, syringe, gloves, hospital consumables and one day you might be asked to pay for fuel to run the hospital on generator while they attend to you. Funny but who knows? Rising health care costs could pose a serious financial concern and having to pay expensive medical bills could sometimes be a daunting and disconcerting task.

This story breaks our hearts, but this is just one out of so many others. About six months after being admitted into a hospital in Abia, a young lady narrates sorrowfully how she had been detained for not being able to pay her bills.

"I have really suffered a lot since I came here and they do not allow me go out," said Anita, who relies on her mother and siblings to bring food to her and help her care for her baby”.

Clearly she was not prepared to spend as much as she had to and had exceeded her budget. Take time to answer these questions:

Do you constantly feel overwhelmed by your out-of-pocket medical costs? Do you feel concerned about having the best, effective and affordable health care at your reach any day and anytime? If your answer is “yes”, then it is imperative to always make plans for medical related issues. This will ensure you escape the burden of having to pay impromptu health care bills that are expensive, complicated and insensitive.

Paying for your Medical Bills

Your choice of health care should be flexible, convenient, affordable, efficient and effective. Generally, there are two ways you could pay for your health care service - Out-of-Pocket (OOP) or through a Health Insurance plan.  In Nigeria, health insurance services are provided through the National Health Insurance Scheme which is administered by the government, or through private Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). Data shows that about 72% of health expenditures in Nigeria are made out-of-pocket. This is a relatively high number when compared to other nations in sub-Saharan Africa such as Kenya at 26 per cent and Gabon at 22 per cent. This means more Nigerians should be encouraged to adopt a health insurance plan to significantly reduce the amount they spend on health out of pocket.

The following steps should guide in adopting a health care plan that is good and affordable:

Register with a hospital close to you

Identify a hospital near you and find out if the doctor is always available all the time or some of the time. Proximity and availability are factors you must consider when choosing a doctor. You should also verify if you could consult with your doctor via Telemedicine using video and audio platforms. The availability of state-of-the-art medical equipment in a hospital increases the reputation of the hospital. This in turn influences the cost of services and procedures provided by the facility.

Buy an affordable health insurance plan

You should compare the price of a health insurance plan before you purchase it, to make sure you obtain coverage that suite your medical needs at an affordable price. Some health insurance companies allow monthly premium payment while others offer annual premium payments.

Managed care plans enable you to save lot of money for yourself and family members when ill, especially when you are required to pay expensive medical bills. Health Insurance plans generally categorized into two:

  • Individual health Insurance Plan

  • Corporate Health Insurance Plan

Individual health insurance plans would only cater for the medical needs of you and your immediate family members.

Corporate health plans are offered by insurance companies. They enable organizations figure out the best health plan for all employees and this could save you quite a lot of money.

Ensure essential services are covered

You must review your plan to identify some essential services that your insurance should cover to avoid having cost sharing features. This will ensure that you don’t pay extra fees when sick or co-pay for expensive services and procedures while receiving treatment. Follow this checklist for a few essential services you must have as part your health insurance plan:

Medical Facility Coverage: Ensure that your preferred medical facility is covered by the insurance company you would enroll with.

Prescribed Drugs: If you are currently on a prescription drug or may have to use some certain medications in the future, do ensure you have this covered under your health plan

Pre-existing Conditions: You would need to verify if your insurer covers pre-existing conditions (such as maternity service) and confirm how these conditions would be covered.

Limits of Coverage: Do ensure that you are satisfied with the limit of coverage provided by your insurer for each procedure or service

Coverage for Family Members: You must factor in your spouse and dependents to ensure they are beneficiaries of your health plan

Exclusions: Every health insurance policy comes with exclusions (what is not covered), so you may have to check if the condition you presently have is included in the exclusions list

Additional Services: Ask your insurer if additional services such as mental health, psychiatry, and other specialist services are covered outside those rendered by your primary care physician

Embrace Preventive Measures

Take more preventive services to reduce frequency of hospital visits which translate to more cost. If you have children and dependents, ensure you engage in routine check-ups and immunization. Ensure you take routine health screens and ensure they are covered by your insurer.

Adopt a Telemedicine Service

Telemedicine aims to improve your overall patient experience and allows you to enjoy the full benefits of your insurance cover.  Do ensure that Telemedicine is covered in your health insurance plan by advising your insurer to adopt a Telemedicine service. Non-insured individuals and organizations are advised to adopt virtual care by contacting a Telemedicine vendor to develop a bespoke solution that fits their peculiar situation. This is because a comprehensive Telemedicine service reduces the overall health care cost for individuals, organizations and health maintenance organizations.

Avoid Self-Medication

According to a research by American Well (3), 67% of patients procrastinate a visit to the doctor or hospital for several reasons such as high cost of seeking medical care; busy schedule; indifference to treatment; distance to the health facility, and self-medication. However, postponing treatment or self-medicating could have consequences especially when the disease condition is severe. The cost implication whenever diagnosis and treatment are delayed includes more expensive alternatives which could have been curbed with preventive examination and early medical care. Moreover, ignoring medical care for mild medical conditions could lead to more severe medical issues in the future which could have dire consequences.

Telemedicine offers a viable solution for patients who may choose to self-medicate or procrastinate physical visit to a doctor or hospital by providing virtual access to medical care without the need to travel to a brick and mortar facility. This encourages early diagnosis and treatment by a qualified and licensed medical professional through real time virtual visit. In addition to the cost-saving advantage, clinical benefits of Telemedicine include management of chronic conditions; easy follow-up after discharge; refill of prescriptions; senior citizens care, and birth control.

Seriously, even if you cannot afford health insurance for every member of your family, you must get your children covered. There is nothing has horrifying or tragic for a parent as facing an emergency for your child or children without having cash in the house or in the bank to foot the bill.

 

 

 

References     

https://www.thebalance.com/choosing-health-care-plans-2645385

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-insurance/articles/2012/08/07/8-keys-to-picking-the-best-individual-health-insurance-policy

American Well Telehealth Index Consumer Survey (2017), Retrieved from http://go.americanwell.com/rs/335-QLG-882/images/American_Well_Telehealth_Index_2017_Consumer_Survey.pdf

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-insurance/articles/2012/08/07/8-keys-to-picking-the-best-individual-health-insurance-policy

https://www.thebalance.com/dental-insurance-waiting-period-2645722

https://www.inc.com/jared-hecht/the-4-best-health-insurance-options-for-small-business-owners.html

https://www.inc.com/gene-marks/what-are-the-best-healthcare-options-for-your-business-for-now-there-are-four.html

http://nigerianfinder.com/health-insurance-in-nigeria-all-you-need-to-know/

http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/health-insurance-guide/understanding-medical-bills/

 

 

Share on twitter
By Ehi O (ID: ADM4154)       Comments       Rating: