In the midst of choosing to be self-employed, I’d be lying if I said that Obama’s new healthcare laws didn’t bring me a sigh of relief. I am young, under the age of 26, and capable of staying under my parents’ insurance for a few more years. As my father’s a government employee, I am lucky to have access to one of the best health insurance policies in the nation. My prescription and doctor co-pays are minimal, emergency room visits are just fifty dollars, and for birth control, I barely pay anything. Thank God for Uncle Sam. Well, maybe not.
How many Americans still wrestle with being uninsured? Between the self-initiated entrepreneurs and out-of-luck unemployed, health insurance remains a pressing issue that calls into question Americans’ relationship with their health. When you no longer have the cushion of insurance to pay for the prescription to that preventable flu or breaking a bone is no longer affordable due to x-ray costs, you start to realize that irresponsibly putting your health in jeopardy is no longer an option.
Daily vitamins become a requirement. Eating healthy becomes a cost saver compared to an extra trip to the doctor. And maybe you dress properly in the winter instead of rushing out the house in flimsy clothing. Every little gesture begins to count when it comes to health and avoiding medical expenditures. Essentially, preserving your immune system becomes a necessary sport. After all, who wants to spend an extra hundred dollars (or more) on a preventable doctor visit?
But regardless, regular check-ups still are a must and there are a variety of low cost clinics that accommodate people without insurance. Planned Parenthood is a great resource for women and men in need of health services. They provide general healthcare, including anemia testing, physical exams, flu and tetanus vaccines in addition to high blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, and diabetes screenings. Moreover, they offer a variety of sexual health services for men and women, including urinary tract infection and infertility treatments, birth control, STD testing, and abortion. Women also have the option of receiving breast cancer screenings, pelvic exams, Pap testing, HPV testing, menopause counseling in addition to yeast infection and vaginitis treatments.
As one of the largest health provider chains in the nation, Planned Parenthood is a reputable institution, but there are numerous other local clinic facilities that offer similar services. While pricing on doctor visits and testing vary by state, the average cost for an annual physical exam ranges from $150-$500, depending on the blood work and testing required. Despite lacking insurance, getting a physical exam is necessary at least once a year. And if you’re sexually active, STD testing should be done at least every 6 months. Take these appointments seriously and don’t skip out to save a buck. It may end up costing you more in the long run, should something be wrong.
Regardless of your insurance status, take the proper precautions toward preserving your health. Eat healthy. Practice safe sex. Exercise often. And don’t wait until you’re uninsured to learn these health lessons. Start now.