How to Prepare for a Health Emergency
By Melissa A. Brown
There are a number of ways to be sure you are prepared in the event of a health emergency. Here are a few quick tips:
- Keep emergency numbers and a list of current medications handy at all times.
- Wear a medical bracelet or necklace, if applicable.
- Record the name of someone close to you in your cell phone under “emergency.”
- If you believe you are in a health crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Too often, medical problems become more expensive or more severe if you wait. There are many different resources available on a federal and state level to help those with financial difficulties in the case of a health crisis. These organizations include, but are not limited to, the Salvation Army, Medicaid, the United Way, the federal Department of Health and Human Services and your state department of social services, which goes by a different name in each state.
Medicare provides medical insurance to people who are over 65 or disabled. It is federally funded. About 99 percent of all Americans are eligible for free coverage under Medicare Part A.
Part A pays for inpatient treatment in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, and will sometimes cover home health care. Gaining coverage through Medicare Part A is a solid step toward being prepared for a health crisis. Additional coverage is available through Medicare Part B or Advantage Plans. Medicare Advantage plans include physicians’ visits, outpatient treatment, lab tests and sometimes prescription drugs.
Know Your Medicare Plan
Before a crisis strikes, be sure you understand your health plan, including your co-pays, maximum spending limits, and annual deductibles. Learn if your plan has rules about using medical professionals in network and if you need to notify them before seeking medical care. This will help you avoid penalties or even a case in which your insurance does not pay your claims at all.
Prepare a living will and a power of attorney before a health crisis hits. Share with the people named in these documents exactly what your wishes are and that they will be your voice if you are unable to speak for yourself. You may also want to give copies to your personal physician.
Keep Your Financial Affairs in Order
For most Americans, a single health crisis can be the catalyst for financial ruin. Be prepared when you are well, and you can prevent this from happening to you. Older Americans should obtain health insurance before a substantial health issue arises. This will ensure there is coverage that will limit out-of-pocket expenditures in the event of an emergency.
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