Avoid the emergency room
Fridays, weekends and holidays are always bad times to get a doctor’s appointment, and many people end up in an emergency department. Which costs a lot of money, even for those with health insurance.
What can you do to decrease your chances of needing emergency care or other expensive healthcare over the holidays?
An emergency physician recently posted some good tips on the healthcare blog KevinMD, and I’ve included a few of my own.
- Refill your prescription medications before the holidays.
- Participate in winter activities, such as skiing or ice skating, safely. Use recommended safety equipment.
- Wash your hands often and stay away from others if you are sick.
- Supervise small children to prevent injuries from toys or accidental poisonings.
- Use telehealth or urgent care services instead of the emergency department. Check with your insurance policy to see what services and facilities they cover.
- Drive safely for the road conditions and drive responsibly (don’t drink and drive!).
Check your symptoms before seeking care
If you’re concerned about your symptoms and can’t get hold of your doctor’s office, call a nurse hotline. Many insurance companies have a nurse or health hotline you can call to get advice about how to treat a minor illness, such as a sore throat or back pain. This can save you a trip to urgent care or the emergency department.
If your insurance doesn’t offer this service, most local hospitals or medical centers have a nurse hotline.
Find out what’s available in your community and then post the number near your home phone, or save it in your cell phone.
There is also an app I like called iTriage, which may give you more information about your symptoms and when you should seek care.
Save money on treating a cold
The most common illnesses over the holidays will be viruses—sore throats, ear aches, coughs, colds and the flu.
Viruses typically run their course in 7 to 10 days, and there’s not much you can do besides rest, stay hydrated, and avoid spreading it to other people.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has a good webpage on cold/flu prevention and treatments.
What else can you do? Here are a few of my previous posts for more information:
- Get a flu shot! It’s not too late.
- Wash your hands a lot.
- Remember antibiotics don’t work against a virus.
- Know the difference between a cold and the flu.
- Be informed about what supplements can and can’t do.
- Be informed about which over-the-counter medications are most useful for coughs or colds.
Have a safe and healthy holiday!