Affordable health care

health-careQ: I recently lost my health insurance benefits and now have to buy my own coverage. I can barely afford even the cheapest policy out there.

Any ideas?

A: Okay, first of all, this website is “Your ER Doc” not “Your Insurance Agent,” and certainly not “Your Congressman” but I’ll take a stab at it. You have to have insurance in case something catastrophic happens, so I favor a relatively inexpensive PPO plan with a very high deductible. This will deal with large bills that could result from hospitalizations, surgeries, etc. Under ordinary circumstances however, most healthy people will not get close to their deductible. This means that you now have to avoid getting sick or hurt as much as possible to save costs. It is absolutely imperative that you take full responsibility for your health. First read my top 10 list, “How to Stay out of the ER,” and also follow the following rules below.
Here’s how many cigarettes you can smoke per day: 0.
Here’s how many alcoholic beverages you can have per day: 1.
Here’s your new diet plan (which by the way I completely stole): Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Here’s your list of high impact sports you can participate in: Chess.
Here’s how much faster than the speed limit you may drive: 0.
Here’s how much exercise you need: 30 minutes aerobic every other day.

I’m sorry this is restrictive my friend, but at least it’s cheap.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

tb 02.19.09 at 8:54 am

ER Doc…loved the “High Impact Sport”….! And don’t forget seat belts!

Steve Parker, M.D. 02.19.09 at 6:59 pm

Good advice, ER Doc. 40% of poor health and premature deaths are attributable to behavioral patterns we control, such as obesity, inadequate physical activity, and smoking.

To save on health insurance and health care costs, also consider high-deductible Health Savings Accounts and cash-only medical practices. In the latter, you don’t pay for huge overhead required for the office to deal with insurers.


ame i. 02.20.09 at 11:31 am

That is actually helpful advice ;)

Toni Brayer, MD 02.21.09 at 11:59 am

You are right on. Love these tips.

Your ER Doc 02.21.09 at 6:33 pm

Thanks Toni!

Your ER Doc 02.21.09 at 6:33 pm

Wait, you sound surprised. . .

MLP 02.22.09 at 12:16 pm

Good advice doctor! I just found your site and find in quite good. Thanks for your efforts.

MLP 02.22.09 at 12:22 pm

I just noted you did your academia at UCLA. I have seen Dr. Hoffman in a few CME conferences. He’s quite a guy!

Your ER Doc 02.22.09 at 9:58 pm

Hoffman is a a legend in emergency medicine. Very bright man.

MLP 02.24.09 at 10:15 am

I really enjoy watching him speak. He is so passionate about his work and it’s hard not to really like and respect him for it.

TDB 02.26.09 at 2:11 am

I lost my job this month due to company layoffs which means my insurance coverage is ending in a few days. Because of preexisting medical conditions I cannot afford to not be covered so until I get a job with insurance I have to pay COBRA. Not cool, but if I am not covered when I get new insurance they might decide not to cover condititon “x” for a year to 18 months or in some cases, they will not cover the condition at all.
If you have a preexisting condition I would recommend looking for options if you can not get COBRA from your old job. Right now due to the passing of the stimulus bill (don’t care how you feel about it), apparently employers are required to pay 65% of the cost of COBRA. This starts 3/1/09. I was so glad to discover I am able to be covered for less than half of the cost I expecting

Your ER Doc 02.26.09 at 2:34 pm

Another example of the complexities of our health insurance system, and the inefficiencies inherent within it. I’m glad your COBRA expenses will be more reasonable after the new stimulus bill. However, I think until we fix the fundamental inefficiencies in health care delivery, this country is heading off a financial cliff.

tb 03.02.09 at 8:18 am

Where are you, ER Doc….???!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Miss you!

Your ER Doc 03.08.09 at 5:28 pm

Sorry! I’ve been doing way too much administrative nonsense!

Your ER Doc 03.10.09 at 6:45 pm

still here just very busy of late!

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