A medical emergency can happen to anyone at any time. Whether the emergency comes in the form of car accident injuries, broken limbs, heart attack, stroke or other conditions, there are steps you can take now to prepare for this potential eventuality so that you are not scrambling at the last minute. Below are practical steps you can take now to protect your health and your pocketbook.
Are You Financially Prepared For A Medical Emergency?
Preparing for a medical emergency in your family goes deeper than just having a home emergency plan in place, and making sure the kids know how to dial 911 if you are incapacitated. Medical bills from previous years can stay listed on your credit report and if they’ve been past due, doing things like getting a home loan can be impossible. Whether it’s from a trip to the ER after getting terribly sick or being in a car accident unless you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness it’s likely you don’t expect that you’ll end up in the emergency room. But that’s the point - medical emergencies can’t be planned but the better prepared you are to pay unexpected medical bills, the more likely you’ll avoid long-term debt or your own financial crisis.
Review Your Health Insurance Policy
Before a medical emergency happens, take the time to review your health insurance policy. Familiarize yourself with what your deductible, co-insurance and exclusions are. If you need help with this, contact the Arizona insurance broker you used to obtain the plan. These seasoned professionals will cut through obscure insurance lingo and get you straight answers about what is and is not covered under your policy.
In addition to knowing your policy terms, make sure you know the following information:
What Hospitals Are In-Network?
When a child plays a sport or is at a friend’s house and there’s some type of accident, the child will likely be rushed to whichever hospital is nearest, but not every hospital takes every type of insurance. While choosing a specific Arizona hospital isn’t always possible in an emergency situation, you can avoid being billed by a non-preferred hospital if you know where to go ahead of time. Also, make sure your family knows the plan. Ask that records at your family’s school, work and activities state that if an emergency situation occurs the preferred hospital is (blank).
It’s also a good idea to know which doctors in the emergency room are in your insurance network as well. Again, if there’s a time crunch to save lives you obviously don’t want to be picky - safety should always come first - but if it isn’t a life-threatening injury and waiting a couple of hours won’t further the injury or illness, knowing which doctor to request could save you months or years of paying off a big ER bill. If you’re not in Arizona when an emergency occurs, having your insurance card on hand at all times will ensure that you are only a phone call away from getting the care that is covered.
Learn The Difference Between The ER and Urgent Care, And Where To Go For Care
Remember that urgent care facilities and ERs are not the same. Urgent care centers are great for an illness that has lasted many days, broken bones that aren’t life-threatening, or other injuries. Life-threatening illnesses or wounds should be treated immediately at an ER. There’s a time to save money and a time to save a life and if it is between the two, the latter should always take precedence.
Urgent Care centers are popping up all over the country because of the need for medical attention at a reasonable cost. If a child breaks a leg and goes to the emergency room, even if it’s a preferred network, you could be paying for the visit, x-rays and meds out-of-pocket. By taking that same child to an urgent care facility that’s in-network, costs often are much lower.
As with hospitals, do your research on which urgent care centers are part of your Arizona insurance company’s provider network. Keep a list of which places you can go to. Knowing the costs at different centers, as well as the reputations of the physicians and care, will help you make a wise decision for yourself and your family.
Enlist The Help Of Your Pharmacist
Medication mistakes may be one way that you’ll land in the emergency room - especially if you are not paying attention to what you’re taking. Prevent a medical emergency by asking your pharmacist questions about what the side effects of your medication are, the correct way to take it and if there’s anything else you need to know about it.
Also, remember that doctors can make mistakes too, so if you have any medication allergies, ask the pharmacist if that medication will be a problem. Talking to your pharmacist about all of these things can mean you avoid a trip to the emergency room and the bill that comes with it. Your pharmacist may even be able to recommend a generic version of the prescription, which could save you more money, but check with your doctor first!
When it comes to being prepared for a medical emergency, your Arizona health insurance broker can most definitely help you with keeping your insurance information in order, but ultimately you’re responsible for being prepared to take care of yourself and your family. Make sure you have medical files that are easily accessible and up to date at home, know which hospitals are in your preferred network and have a credit card with available credit ready in case insurance doesn’t cover your emergency room visit. No one wants to have a medical emergency but we can’t control everything. By being prepared, you can make the stress of an emergency lessened with the knowledge that you are ready to handle it.
Carry A List Of Medications You Take Regularly
In a medical emergency, paramedics and doctors will not know what medications you are currently taking unless you tell them. To prevent potentially dangerous drug interactions carry a list of medications, including dosage amounts and frequency, with your Arizona ID and insurance card.
Many have found that filling out an Advance Medical Directive is especially helpful in the case of an emergency. This legal document provides hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others with your wishes if you are unable to communicate them yourself. The medical directive should also list your emergency contacts and your medications as noted above.
Having A Medical Emergency Is Stressful Enough. Take Steps Now To Prepare.
Medical emergencies are most definitely a strain for most people. Preparing for a medical emergency goes deeper than teaching children a plan if mom and dad are hurt or knowing how to escape the house if there’s a fire - the financial burden of a medical emergency can put added stress on recovery.
By being financially prepared for something bad to happen, you’re actually going to make that emergency less of a problem for your family and allow yourself and loved ones to concentrate more on getting better, supporting one another and keeping a regular lifestyle in the future.
Anderson Insurance Services in Scottsdale has been helping Arizona families and businesses prepare for medical emergencies since 1981. From selecting the right health insurance plan to explaining the benefits of your existing plan, we are here to help. Contact us today for more information.