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September 2008
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What if you don’t have health insurance?

According to the United States Census Bureau, 46.9 million Americans are without health insurance. If you happen to find yourself among the ranks of the uninsured there are still things you can do. Here are some great tips I’ve come across.  If you have more, tell us!

Join a discount club
Plans like AmeriPlan and Careington Health Systems offer discount cards that are available to most everyone. Providers (doctors, dentists, optical, chiropractic and much more) in these plans agree to give members up to a 60 percent discount. You’ll pay a monthly membership fee (ranging from about $12 to $30), and you’ll probably need to pay cash at the time of service. Check each plan’s coverage in your area — some regions have fewer participating providers than others.

Insurance for your kids
Every state in the nation has a health insurance program for infants, children and teens. For little or no cost, this insurance pays for routine doctor visits, prescription medicines, hospitalization and more. What’s more, your kids are eligible even if you’re employed. The exact terms of each state’s program varies. You can learn more by clicking here and selecting your state of residence.

Free Sample Medications
If you do plan to visit a physician or clinic and need medication, ask your doctor or nurse for infant formula samples. They get tons of samples that are meant to be given away.

Eyeglass Deals
Avoid the high-end eyeglass emporiums at the mall. A leading consumer magazine reports that the best deals on eyeglasses can be found at BJ’s, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart and Costco. For example, a set of featherweight lenses, priced at LensCrafters for $240 cost around $80 at Costco. Wal-Mart often offers special deals on two pairs of children’s eyeglasses. You’ll often find “no-name” versions of the exact same frames.

Emergency Hospital Visits
I don’t recommend that you use a hospital emergency room visit for routine medical care but when you have a life threatening condition you can rest easy (or a little easier, anyways), knowing that hospitals and their doctors are required to at least render care to the extent that you’re stabilized regardless of your financial situation. Many states have laws that extend this rule in various ways.

Negotiate your Bill
According to a Wall Street Journal survey last year, 70% of respondents who attempted to negotiate with a hospital for lower prices were successful! 64% were successful negotiating with their dentist and 61% successful with their doctor. Discounts range from 20 – 50% and are often dependent on your financial circumstances, but it always pays to ask. While you’re asking, remember to consider your payment circumstances. If you’re lucky enough to be able to a pay a bill in cash, that often warrants a bigger discount. If you can’t pay a bill in cash, doctors and hospitals are frequently willing to consider payment terms.

Take care of yourself
We all know that inexpensive, routine maintenance and proper usage can keep our car running longer and with fewer visits to the shop for expensive repairs. Ditto for our bodies. Here are the very basics: Eat right and less, get some exercise, simplify your life, wash your hands regularly and last but not least… floss twice a day.

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