Healthcare can be a whopping expense at any age, even for millennials who are relatively young and may not experience the same medical issues as their senior counterparts. Still, a new survey from Harmony Healthcare IT uncovers a very disturbing trend: A good 45% of millennials have been putting off health issues even though doing so can cause medical problems to worsen. And of those who have been delaying healthcare, 41% admit to putting a medical issue on hold for more than a year.
Often, the reason for such delays boils down to cost. It's easier to put off treatment than to scrounge up the money to cover deductibles and copays. But doing so can be an expensive mistake.
Imagine you develop a nasty cough that needs to be treated with antibiotics, only you don't see the doctor and instead let it escalate. If that cough evolves into pneumonia and lands you in the hospital, you could be looking at a bill well into the thousands, whereas a basic doctor visit should cost far less.
The takeaway? Don't put off health issues, but also, don't let money be the thing that's holding you back from caring for your health. If you factor medical costs into your budget, you'll be less inclined to neglect your health because of limited cash.
Your health should take priority
If you've been known to delay healthcare because of financial constraints, it's time to rethink your budget, or create one that allows for medical spending. Setting up a budget is simple: You list your recurring monthly expenses, factor in once-a-year expenses, and make sure your total spending falls below your total earnings with enough room left over to set aside 15% of your income or more for retirement savings. And if your current expenses don't leave you any wiggle room for medical spending, you'll need to slash them -- immediately. That could mean downsizing to a smaller living space, unloading a car in favor of public transportation, or eating the bulk of your meals at home rather than dining out.
If you really can't bear to cut back on spending, boost your earnings with a side job on top of your main one. But either way, make sure you have enough money coming in to take care of your health.
At the same time, always have some money in the bank for medical emergencies. Generally speaking, you should have at least three months' worth of living expenses tucked away for unforeseen expenses, whether they're home-, automobile-, or health-related. If you're shy on emergency funds, you'll need to follow the above advice -- get on a strict budget, reduce your spending, and boost your earnings to build some cash reserves.
Furthermore, it often pays to have a separate savings account earmarked for medical expenses only. That way, you'll be less stressed if a larger health issue happens to arise. Obviously, the more you're able to save in that sort of account, the better, but you should, at the very least, aim to sock away enough to cover your annual deductible, which you'll need to fulfill before your health insurance company starts paying for your medical care.
Neglecting your health is a move that can hurt you physically and financially. If you've been doing that for financial reasons, work medical care into your budget and build some savings for healthcare purposes -- before you really cause yourself harm.