Money Matters: Preparing For Medical Emergencies

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More than 54 million people reported having trouble paying medical bills in January 2012.

While someone with a chronic medical problem can expect to wind up in a hospital or ER from time to time, no one plans to get the flu, break a bone or get in a car accident.

Gerri Eetweiler from reports there are a number of ways to prepare for a medical emergency now:

1. Research local hospitals.

If you have health insurance, make sure you know the locations near home, work and school that participate in your health insurance network. If it's not a matter of life and death, you'll know where to go so you won't pay more than you have to.

Do the same before you travel. Find out what your insurance company's policy is on out-of-state emergencies.

2. Put urgent care on speed dial.

An illness or accident when the doctor's office is closed doesn't mean you have to go to an expensive emergency room. Many problems can be handled in an urgent care or minor emergency center. You'll save hundreds of dollars compared to a hospital emergency room.

3. Max out your flex account.

If your employer offers a flexible spending account, you may want to contribute to that plan to build up a cushion for medical emergencies. But make sure you spend the money in your account before the end of the year or deadline date.

4. Make friends with your pharmacist.

Make sure he or she is aware of all the medications and supplements you are taking to avoid interactions. Don't be afraid to ask questions. And shop around for lower cost prescription drugs.

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