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How to Afford Health Care in Hard Times
Date:7/17/2009

SEATTLE, July 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The economic downturn is impacting the health of many people - not only by exacerbating conditions like hypertension, stress and fatigue, but also by causing people to put off getting the health care they need.

Physicians at The Polyclinic in Seattle are offering suggestions for how to get them most for your money when it comes to your health.

Don't put off necessary treatment

Fears about possible loss of jobs and insurance impact how patients are managing their health - often by putting off care in an attempt to minimize spending. In many cases, this can actually result in increased costs down the road as conditions worsen. There are obvious advantages to addressing any health issues while you still have insurance.

Know your benefits

You may be able to receive certain types of care at little or no cost to you, depending on your insurance plan. Many plans are designed to have the least out of pocket expense to patients for the care they need the most in order to stay healthy or manage chronic conditions.

Get your preventive care and screenings

Do what you can to stay healthy and minimize costly future illnesses or hospital stays. Get your physical and well checks done now - especially if you fear you may lose your insurance later. Keep in mind that many insurance plans cover routine screenings.

Look at your medications

You may be taking expensive brand medications that are available in a generic alternative. Check with your doctor to see if you still need to be on all the medications you are currently taking. Not all pharmacies charge the same, so shop around for the best price if you're paying out-of-pocket.

Inquire about payment options

Don't put off care you need or screenings because you think you can't afford it. Call a customer service representative at your health care provider and see if they are able to help you set up a payment plan that meets your budget and allows you to get your preventive care in a timely manner.

Explore insurance options

Many people are faced with losing their jobs due to the current economic climate, and in turn, their health care coverage. The stimulus package includes a revised COBRA benefit structure where the government is going to pay for a large percentage of the premium by way of an employer credit for the first nine months of an 18-month benefit per health plans.

Discuss your situation with your doctor

Let your doctor know if there are issues that may impact your ability to afford medicines or complete testing, or if you are experiencing health issues related to financial difficulties.

About The Polyclinic

The Polyclinic is made up of more than 150 physicians, including internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, oncology and hematology and 23 additional medical and surgical specialties. Since its inception in 1917, The Polyclinic's mission has been to promote the health of its patients through high-quality, comprehensive and personalized care. For more information, visit www.polyclinic.com.


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