When it comes to the well-being of your kids, you're probably willing to do just about anything to ensure that they are healthy and happy. But unless you have a job that offers great benefits and you happen to have a money tree in your backyard, you might not have the cash necessary to keep up with their many medical needs. Although most kids will never suffer from serious ailments or afflictions (like cancer or diabetes, for example), they still require annual visits to the doctor and dentist (and possibly other medical practitioners). And most kids pick up germs and viruses like they're going out of style, which means at the very least you're going to feel like you're investing in a pharmaceutical company with the amount of OTC medications you have to buy.
The point is, like most parents you are probably seeking ways to save money when it comes to keeping your kids healthy. So here are a few tips and tricks to help you out.
Most people start with insurance, and if your work offers benefits for you and your family this is almost certainly the best route. You often have at least a few plans to choose from (with varying price ranges) and you can always opt to pay less monthly by selecting a higher deductible, especially if your kids don't tend to get sick often. Or if you have yearly medical costs that are more or less fixed (medication) or upcoming costs that are known (a scheduled medical procedure) you might want to ask about a flexible spending account that allows you to pull pre-tax money from your paycheck in order to use it for medical expenses. Just keep in mind that most expire at the end of the year and you lose any unused funds.Even if you have insurance you may still be looking for ways to cut costs. For example, your policy might not cover all expenses, which means you could be on the hook to pay a portion of doctor or ER visits. So instead of heading straight to the hospital for every illness or injury, see if your provider offers a 24/7 nurse hotline to answer questions and make recommendations. You'll likely find that a trip to the hospital is a waste of time and money in most cases. And you should also find Urgent Care facilities in your area as a low-cost alternative to emergency medical care.
But what if you can't afford insurance, even if it's just a discount medical or low cost dental plan? Many families simply don't have the room in their budget for health insurance. In this case regular check-ups for kids are even more important since you want to stave off major medical expenses that you'll have to pay out of pocket. So talk to your doctor and dentist about options. Many private practices allow uninsured patients to pay less if they pay in cash at the time of the visit. And look into alternatives like state-offered health coverage or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program). Finally, seek out prescription assistance programs, which can help to cover the costs of necessary medication. Seeing to the health needs of your kids can be pricey, but there are definitely ways to reduce costs of you know where to look.