Don’t Let Starting a Solo Practice Endanger Your Health

I was recently reading an article on how those who are facing financial ‘tightness’ are opting to forgo taking care of themselves.

How We’re Cutting Back

  • 32% skipped some preventive care
  • 10% stopped or diminished their use of medicines for chronic conditions
  • 42% say they’ll trim health-related expenses in the next six months

Source: American Heart Association

Doing Less in Tough Times

The slumping economy has hurt more than people’s bank accounts.  A new American Heart Association survey says their health care is also suffering

  • 57% say that the economy has affected their ability to take care of their health
  • 29% are purchasing less fresh fruit, vegetables and other perishable items due to financial concerns
  • 18% have skipped a routine health procedure, such as a mammogram or an annual physical
  • 13% have skipped their flu shot

One of the primary reasons people opt to be employed versus self-employed is health care for themselves and their families.  So, whether you are opting for solo practice or being forced into solo practice because there are no jobs is frightening from the health care perspective.

“People under financial stress don’t take care of themselves as well.”  Dr. Timothy Gardner, President of the AHA.

How do you make the right financial choices?  And do they include health care?  The answer is easy.  You MUST take care of yourself and with belt tightening you can still make wise choices for your health.

Prevention MUST be a priority.  The article clearly says that U.S. health care needs to shift its focus away from treating illnesses and problems and move toward prevention instead.

I don’t have the answers to the U.S. health care situation in this country.  But I do know that a healthy mind and body helps you cope with life’s stresses better than a mind and body which has been neglected.  And when you are going through the ups and downs of starting your own business and feel the additional stress of being an entrepreneur it is going to make your job that much harder if you have neglected yourself.

The average health insurance premium zoomed up more than 95% from 2000 to 2008.  At the same time, the number of uninsured Americans has been steadily climbing.  As the recession continues, many families are facing tough choices between health care and other necessary household expenses.  Even people with health insurance may not want to pay the deductible or co-pay that doctors’ visits require.

5 Ways to Lower Medical Costs (summarized from Emily Listfield)

1. Strike a deal with your doctor while you are opening your solo practice. If you are a regular patient and are a little tight, don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor to forgo a co-pay until things get better for you or to even treat you without payment until such time as things get better. The worse that can happen, you still get some type of break or agree to make it up when you are on your financial feet.

2. Visit a Clinic There are more than 7000 community health centers across the country that offer comprehensive medical care ranging from check-ups, immunizations and tests to sick visits.  These free standing clinics charge their patients according to a sliding scale and will treat people who don’t have insurance.  Many university teaching hospitals also operate clinics that run on a pay-what-you-can basis.  It is much smarter to utilize one of these clinics then an emergency room.  Do the same with your dental needs by going to a dental school where you can save up to 50% on cleanings, fillings and even crowns in exchange for helping dental students learn under the careful supervision of the faculty.

3. Change the frequency of your visits if medically OK. If you are getting on-going treatments, doctors and hospitals will negotiate with you without compromising your care.

4. Get free tests and screenings. Many drugstore chains and supermarkets offer free blood-pressure screenings.  Hospitals and clinics frequently offer free screenings for various illnesses such as skin cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes.

5. Save on Medication. Pharmaceutical companies have been known to cut the costs of medications for those in trouble financially. Warehouses such as Walmart and Costco provide low cost flu shots.

The bottom line is, life will be different as will your approach to health care but do not compromise your health or you will not be able to sustain your business which requires you to be in good shape both mentally and physically.

A couple of my tips:

  • Spend the money on healthy food.  It’s smarter to spend a little more on high quality healthy food then use it for medical co-pays.
  • Walk 30 minutes a day.  It clears your head.  Is good for you and it’s free :-)

What tips do you have to stay in good mental and physical health while starting your solo practice?

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