By Michelle Katz
Live a financial healthy life with Multiple Scherosis (MS). Here are some healthcare cost saving tips:
1. Shop around for your health insurance: One of the key factors to saving money when you have MS, as well as many other diseases, is being sure you have the best insurance for yourself. Remember, what might be the best insurance for you, may not be the best insurance for someone else. Know what you want out of your health insurance and don’t let anyone else, especially the health insurance company tell you what they think you need. This is not an overnight process, and it might take a few weeks to do a thorough job. Be patient, and treat it like you are looking for that perfect outfit for the perfect day or even a house. Keep in mind that every year you want to review your policy because your needs may change as well as what your policy offers. So do not put it off until the open enrollment season, or the day before you next doctor’s appointment. Be sure the health insurance policies you are considering have integrity by checking with your state insurance commissioner or other people that may have the policy in your state with MS. In addition, pay close attention to things that will have a severe impact on your treatment such as your neurologist, lab work, potential hospital charges and pharmaceuticals you may be taking later in the year. For example, when you have MS, it is extremely important to know that your neurologist is accepting your insurance and will be accepting your insurance for at least the next year until your policy expires and you can choose a new policy. Double check to be sure you can continue your treatments with the policy, and if there is a change in your treatment, the insurance plan has a “hassle free process.”
2. Look for free healthcare: Believe it or not, it is out there! Be sure to check with your State Department of Health or even Social Services of your state to see if you qualify for any new programs that your state has been granted money for. It may even be less expensive than using your health insurance in some cases. Don’t forget about federal programs like Medicare, local clinics, etc. Check back every few months. You would be surprised what Congress passes overnight and when it goes into effect and how it can effect you and your healthcare.
3. Get to know your neurologist: He or she can become your biggest aly when dealing with your insurance company if problems occur. Remember, your physician has bills to pay too, so it is in their best interest to help you get coverage. A good relationship can come in handy if you insurance suddenly does not cover a certain treatment. Ask for a discount or even samples of medication until you can get your finances together. Be sure to communicate with your physician and his/her staff about your situation. Help your physician help you! You never know what resources you physician or his/her staff may have access to.
4. Get free or low cost pharmaceuticals. Contact the manufacturer of your pharmaceuticals to see what programs you might qualify for such as Patient Assistance Programs. Some patient assistance programs include the following:
– MS Active Source for Avonex
– MS Pathways for Betaseron
– MS Lifelines for Rebif
– Shared Solutions for Copaxone
– The Access Program for Tysabri
– MS Lifelines Patient Assistance Program for Novantrone
5. Never go without healthcare coverage: Between programs like COBRA which offer temporary coverage for people in between jobs, State Assistance Programs, and companies that offer healthcare benefits to their employees, there is not excuse why someone with MS should go without healthcare coverage. Remember it takes time to apply to some of these programs, so do not wait until last minute to start inquiring because if there is a lapse in coverage, you may run the risk of paying higher premiums for health insurance in the future.
6. Look for those tax deductions: Some of these include medical insurance premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays, transportation to and from the doctor, some nontraditional forms of medicine such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy, an ambulance for hire, an autoette or wheelchair, Capital Expenditures such as home modifications for the handicapped, Car Equipment (to accommodate wheelchair and/or handicapped controls), lodging(treatment related, and with restrictions, up to $50 per person), medical conference fees(relating to chronic illness; no lodging or meals), etc.
7. Take advantage of organizations such as the National MS Society: These organizations have many resources readily available and membership is generally free.Some organizations even offer grants for devices such as wheelchairs and emergency assistance.
These are just a few tips that I discuss in my lectures. Some more tips can be found in Healthcare for Less and 101 Health Insurance Tips, which can be found on www.healthcareforless.us or at major book stores across the United States. It takes time, persistence and a little bit of detective work to uncover some of the best bargains!
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