Living in America without health insurance

Everybody knows the importance of health insurance for themselves and their families in an insurance driven healthcare system like the one prevalent in the United States.

Yet, estimates reveal that almost 26 million people in the US do not have health cover.

What about the Affordable care act? Well, it’s certainly not working yet.

In recent times, due to many reasons, people are choosing to live without health insurance despite being aware of the risks. While some are choosing to fly overseas for their healthcare needs because it’s cheaper, others are just living with glaring health conditions because they have no other choice.

The rising cost of family healthcare insurance

Recently, there were many such stories featured on Bloomberg. Whitney Whitman, a professional counsellor based in Alaska has been living without insurance for two years. A recent medical visit to a pediatrician left her poorer by almost $300.

Yet, she says that she has no choice because the cheapest family health care plan that she could find cost her close to $2000 a month.

How then, does a professional like her who earns just around $100,000 after taxes afford healthcare insurance?

Apart from the staggering costs for health insurance, she also has to cater to mortgages, rental for her work space, credit card payments and student loans.

When her husband fractured a finger recently, they used a self-made splint and continued with their lives choosing to not visit a specialized healthcare clinic. As of now, they continue to live without insurance but her long-term goals are to move to Canada for the universal health coverage they provide.

But how risky is this lifestyle? Especially when she has young kids who are active in the outdoors? An injury, no matter how small, may cost her thousands of dollars.

But Whitney is not the only one who has chosen to live without insurance.

Tara Sullivan works in a law firm in Parkersburg. She shares a common thing with Whitney. She cannot afford health insurance and has chosen to live without it. But Tara hasn’t been as lucky as Whitney is in recent times.

She neglected a persistent cough to the point where it became unbearable and she had to visit an ER. It was detected as Pneumonia and the treatment and barrage of medicines that followed cost her close to $300 so far. She hasn’t paid her hospital bills yet.

She earns close to $30000 a year. The cheapest healthcare plans that she could find had premiums as high as $300 a month. For someone who earns around $2000 a month, that’s a huge amount. She’s nearing 60 years of age and both her parents died of cancer. She lives in constant fear that if she were to be diagnosed with the disease, how does she pay for treatment?

There are many such stories around America. People who are left with no choice but to make tough decisions that can have an impact on their health and that of their families.

Stay in the best shape of your life after 50

Right from the time you cross your 40s, your body begins to undergo changes. At first, the changes are subtle. Like not being able to recall a word or being unable to race up that flight of stairs.

But as your age progresses, the changes start to become more evident. Then, before you realize, you have spent fifty years on the planet.

Realization sinks in that your body is aging. And you know that it is important that you stay fit.

But how do you do it? Is it even possible to think of fitness beyond fifty?

While you can never have the same body as a twenty-year-old, you can very well give the rest of the Quinquagenarians a run for their money.

Here are some tips.

Hire a trainer

YouTube videos and Tutorials won’t cut it anymore. You need a professional trainer who can train you depending on your current fitness and take into account any health conditions that you may be suffering from.

Talk about a fitness plan

You cannot just walk into a gym and start lifting like an Olympian. Your body will probably be creaking as you bend. So, it is important to have a workable plan. Small immediate goals that will give you results and keep you motivated. Have a long-term goal. Are you looking to build muscle? Are you looking to lose weight? Do you want to participate in a marathon, go mountain climbing? Having a goal gives you purpose and that purpose translates into action.

Make fitness a habit

A lot of seniors get started with their fitness goals and quit midway because they feel like it’s too much work. Fitness must be a priority, a habit that automatically becomes a part of your life. You cannot think of it like an option anymore. If you miss your exercise one day, look at it as if you missed a meal and you will start to take it more seriously.

Eat healthy

You might have eaten junk for all your life until now. But after fifty years, your body deserves some amount of respect and good nutrition will be pivotal to your health and wellbeing in the years to come. So, eat healthy food. This might not be possible overnight, especially if you are used to unhealthy eating. So make small, sustainable changes to your eating habits with the end goal of transforming it completely in a year or so.

Don’t neglect your health

Many a time, when you overwhelm your body with multiple changes at a time, it refuses to agree with it. And you might start to notice a sign or two. A small niggling pain during your workout. But you might be so stoked with your new fitness goals that you decide to continue with it anyway. Never, ever do this. It might be an injury that can get aggravated very fast. So, take good care of your health, do frequent health checkups, stay active and stay fit.

Caring for your elderly parents

Caring for an elderly parent(s) is one of the most demanding, emotionally difficult and challenging thing that one can do. One of the reasons why most people find it difficult is because they don’t see it coming.

For many years during your childhood and adulthood, your parents were young and very different from what they might have become now in their twilight years.

However, a recent diagnosis or a mishap at home suddenly thrusts this entire gamut of responsibilities on your shoulders.

You will be juggling a hundred things including your family, kids, finances and with your new role as a caregiver, talking to and meeting doctors, insurance companies and whatnot.

Not easy, we agree.

But with some tips and some guidance, you can seamlessly slip into your new role.

Make the home elderly-friendly

If you are living with your elderly parents, then the first step would be to make the home elderly-friendly. Chuck out the unwanted furniture, keep the corridors clean, put non-skid mats on the bathroom floor, grab bars in the corridor, bathroom and anywhere else that they might need them. If your parent finds it difficult to sit on the toilet seat, look for specialized devices for seniors.

Check in everyday

If your parents are living alone or in an elderly care facility, ensure that you check in with them every day. If you are unable to visit them every day due to your personal commitments, you can have a CCTV monitoring system over VoIP that alerts you about their whereabouts and wellbeing. Alternatively, just call them once every few hours.

Look for caretakers

There are professional agencies that specialize in homecare for seniors. You may want to consider hiring a professional who can be with your parents in your absence and tend to their needs. Ensure that you do your due diligence, check for word of mouth referrals and read reviews about the agency and the professional before you hire them.

Love thy neighbor

There is nothing better than a helpful and a caring neighbor who can keep an eye on your parent in your absence. If you aren’t on great terms with your neighbor, now’s the time. Drop in with some flowers or some gifts for their kids.

Motivate them

 

You should motivate them to be physically active. They might not be in the best of moods or shape, but with your constant motivation, they might make an attempt at some sort of physical activity that will keep them in good shape. Whenever you get time, take them out, for picnics and the like.

Be aware of their medications

Seniors are quite likely to miss doses, overdose or even mix their medications up. It is imperative that you get them a medicine planner with clearly labelled instructions that they can read. Alternatively, you can sort the doses and store them in different places.

Be yourself

Many a time, we get so involved in the process that we start to make them feel alienated. Be yourself. Take them out for a movie. Watch a movie with them. Take them for a walk. Talk about old times. Just do anything that cheers them up.