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How to Manage Treatment Costs for a Chronic Condition

January 18, 2018

Almost 90 percent of all health care spending is for people with chronic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, half of all American adults have at least one chronic condition and nearly one out of three has multiple chronic conditions, meaning the condition is persistent or long lasting.

It's expensive to treat chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, and COPD. Consider these simple but effective ways to lower your out-of-pocket costs for these and other chronic conditions.

Make Positive Changes

First, you have the power to change lifestyle behaviors that negatively affect your health. If you don't get enough exercise, have poor nutrition habits, drink too much alcohol or smoke, you put yourself at risk for chronic conditions. Talk to your doctor about how you can start now to make changes that help you get healthier and lower your medical costs.

Get Preventive Care

If you have a chronic condition, it's especially important to take care of your overall health. Annual screenings, vaccinations, checkups, and other preventive services can help detect or delay the onset of serious diseases, and may be free or cost very little. If you have a health insurance plan, be sure to find out what services are available to you. Remember that staying healthy always saves you money, compared to costs you'll incur if you're injured or sick.

Use Doctors in Your Plan

If you already have a health plan, keep costs down by using doctors and health providers in your plan. These doctors, hospitals, labs, clinics, etc., have a contract with your insurer to provide your care at agreed-upon prices. If you decide to go outside your plan, you'll pay more. Never just assume that a provider you've chosen is in your plan. You can ask the provider, but also contact your health plan to make doubly sure.

Locate Low-Cost Providers

If you don't have health coverage, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' online database can help you find federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) in your area. These clinics provide low-cost services, or charge on a sliding scale depending on your income. They typically provide preventive health, dental services, mental health, substance abuse services, and more.

Search for Assistance Programs

Like anything else you shop for, you don't need to pay the full retail cost of prescriptions and other products to manage your chronic condition. Do your homework and research patient-assistance and copay-assistance programs. State government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and drug manufacturers offer these to consumers like you. Help may be in the form of direct financial assistance, discounts, or coupons. One excellent free service is the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or PPA.

You really can be resourceful and still save money on recurring costs for chronic conditions.