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Always have a plan for healthcare expenses

The cost of healthcare is ever rising. Public healthcare funding is rather wanting, which inevitably necessitates supplementation of care within the private sector. It matters little where you primarily get your health care, you still end up forking out more cash. Your only way out is having a solid plan of managing healthcare costs efficiently.

You can choose to gamble your way out of healthcare expenses by always paying out of pocket. This means directly paying for medical care as per need, the same way you pay for perishable food items whenever replenishments are required. For this strategy to work, you need to have plenty of cash reserves at your disposal. Diseases can crop up unexpectedly, if it all catches you off guard with cash, you may end up with insurmountable medical debts.

Relying on national health insurance is another option. This may be the only option for those in the low income groups. You must stay up to date with monthly contributory premiums. And accept to be limited to certain cadre of healthcare providers, obviously including public facilities. You will sometimes have to settle for poorer quality of care, inextricably tied to dismal healthcare investments. This option leaves you with some measure of confidence on coping with unexpected medical bills. But it leaves you with little leeway of being highly selective of your healthcare providers.

You can obviously get yourself a private health insurance scheme. The market is full of private health insurance companies, all gunning for your custom. If you look around, you’ll come across a suitable health insurance program that would suit your needs. Many companies have rigid insurance policies, all pegged at premiums that many cannot afford. Look for flexible insurers, who are willing to individualize your needs. And accommodate a budget that you can afford. Some innovative insurance players will even allow you to pay nominal amounts into a managed fund that you can access whenever. Having private healthcare insurance is one of the surest ways of accommodating medical expenses.

Many have been caught out with massive medical bills. That’s why there are unending appeals, in both formal and informal media, to help bail out those faced with huge medical bills. Such situations could easily be avoided if public health investments were a notch higher, and better managed. The private sector can also ease the financial burden of healthcare, with cost-efficient treatment pathways that aren’t only geared towards profits. Your role is crucial too. Watch your health, be more proactive than reactive towards disease. Have a financial plan for your healthcare needs, and that of your family as well. And advocate for others who may be in more precarious situations.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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