Tips for managing financial stress about your healthcare
For the average American, financial stress is a significant factor of everyday life. Last year, 60% of those surveyed by the American Psychological Association said they often worried about money. Work was the only stressor that ranked higher.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers are only likely to grow. With unemployment skyrocketing, furloughs on the rise, and work hours reduced, many people are left navigating the everyday stress of life under shelter-in-place orders, along with the additional financial stress of how to pay their monthly bills while keeping food on the table.
To help you through this challenging time, here are some basic strategies for managing your finances – particularly when it comes to your health care – so you can feel better prepared for the weeks and months ahead.
How to cope with uncertainty
With no commute to adhere to, gym classes to attend, or kids to drop off at school, your daily routine may have fallen by the wayside.
While it may be tempting to sip coffee in bed while you answer morning emails and stay in your pajamas all day, a healthier route may be to adopt a stricter daily routine with established boundaries. This includes things like dedicating a separate area of your home as your workspace, and setting a schedule for meals, dog walks, and phone calls to family members. Doing so will help you avoid blurring the lines between work and free time, and help you feel more in control of your day.
This feeling of being more in control may also help you deal with any financial stressors you might be facing. A host of emotions can accompany money worries during a pandemic like COVID-19. They include depression, anger, and anxiety. Taking action to address the problem can go a long way toward helping you cope with financial stress.
Understand your healthcare costs
One way to do this is to know the ins and outs of your healthcare plan, and have a game plan for what might happen should you be laid off or become unable to make a payment.
While you are still employed, take the time to review your plan benefits and understand the difference between in-network and out-of-network providers; the latter are typically more expensive. Having a handle on your benefits will let you know what's covered – and what's not – so you can schedule any essential treatments. The Blue Shield of California cost estimator can help you understand what you might be charged so you can budget for it.
If you or a family member feels ill or needs to seek medical attention immediately, you should consider going to the nearest in-network urgent care center, instead of the emergency room. Not only are hospitals stretched thin with COVID-19 patients, but urgent care centers are more affordable for non-emergencies like headaches and earaches, back pain, and cuts and scrapes. Blue Shield members can find their closest urgent care center by using our mobile app.
Blue Shield also offers a host of telehealth services that allow eligible members to consult with a healthcare professional, without leaving home.
Using your phone, you can try contacting your usual providers to request a virtual visit. You can access Teladoc to speak to a board-certified, licensed doctor who can treat non-emergency medical issues and prescribe medications 24 hours per day, seven days per week. You can also use NurseHelp 24/7℠ to ask questions of a registered nurse, who will assess your symptoms and let you know if you should talk to a provider about most minor illnesses and injuries, chronic conditions, medical tests, medications, and preventive care. NurseHelp 24/7 is available at no additional cost to Access+ HMO members only. If you must be seen in person, you may opt for Heal™, a service that provides on-demand physician house calls for non-emergency care, which is available to PPO members.
When job loss or financial constraints feel overwhelming, know that we have options for you should you experience either circumstance. The first is our offering of a range of Individual and Family Plans, which you can buy at a variety of coverage levels and price points. If you meet income requirements and buy a plan through Covered California, you may qualify for financial help. You may also qualify for government-sponsored health coverage through Medi-Cal, or elect to continue your coverage for a period of time by purchasing COBRA or Cal-COBRA.
Learn more about navigating your plan and coverage.
Know you’re not alone
Remember not to beat yourself up for stressing about money. One-third of working Americans have medical debt, and are likely going through the same things as you are.
The good news: A little time spent taking stock of your emotional and financial situation can make you feel more in control and less anxious and stressed during a tumultuous time.
We are here to help
Learn about the resources available to help you stay covered