Do you have a healthcare budget? Healthcare is expensive, no matter which way you look at it. If you have health insurance, you’re responsible for paying your deductible, copay, and coinsurance. If you stay in-network, these costs could be minimal. However, going out-of-network—or not having health insurance at all—can cost far more. If you’re curious, you can read more about the cost difference between in-network and out-of-network care here.
While planning to have a medical procedure, the focus is often on how to afford the procedure itself. People often forget to factor in the costs associated with recovery. This can lead to surprise expenses, in addition to the bill for your surgery or procedure. Knowing what you’ll need ahead of time—and taking care to create a healthcare budget for these expenses—can help ensure you have peace of mind during your recovery.
Below, learn about 5 items to include in your healthcare budget, as well as some expert tips on budgeting for healthcare.
Healthcare budget item 1: Follow-up appointments
Regardless of what type of procedure you have, you’ll need to plan for follow-up appointments. The number of post-procedure visits you will need depends on several factors including your personal health, the type of procedure you have, and the success of your procedure.
These follow-up appointments are important; they allow you and your doctor to stay in touch and make sure that your recovery is going well. The cost of a follow-up appointment can vary depending on whether you have health insurance or not. Sometimes, a set number of follow-up appointments are included in the cost of your procedure. This is something you’ll want to ask your doctor.
How to budget for follow-up appointments
- Ask your doctor or surgeon how many follow-up appointments you can expect.
- Find out if these appointments are included in the cost of the procedure.
- If they are not included, find out how much each visit will cost. If you have health insurance and are seeing an in-network provider, you may only have to pay your copay amount (if you’ve met your deductible).
- If you are uninsured, be sure to find out what the total cost of each visit is—that’s how much you’ll want to budget for.
Healthcare budget item 2: Physical therapy
If you have a procedure such as an ankle replacement or wrist surgery, physical therapy will be an important part of your recovery. However, the cost of physical therapy is usually not included in the cost of a procedure, so you’ll want to budget for this.
How to budget for physical therapy
- Find out from your doctor or physical therapist how many sessions you’ll need and what the cost of each session is.
- If you have insurance, ask your insurance provider if physical therapy is a covered service and, if it is, what percentage of it is covered. You may only need to pay a copay.
- If you’re an uninsured patient, you will have to cover the cost of physical therapy out-of-pocket. If this is the case, ask your physical therapist if they offer discounts or bundled rates for people in your situation.
Healthcare budget item 3: Childcare and home care
If you have young children at home, you may need to consider who will care for them while you recover from your procedure or surgery. If you’re having a minor, non-surgical procedure, you may only need childcare for a few hours. On the other hand, if you’re having a major surgery, you may need someone to watch the kids for several days.
Even if you don’t have kids that need caring for, you may need additional help for yourself in the days or weeks after your procedure. You’ll want to make sure you have someone to help out in both scenarios. Many procedures require you to take it easy during recovery. Doing too much too soon could slow down your healing.
Budgeting for post-procedure child care and home care
- Determine how much care you need and for how long. For example, do you need someone to take your kids to school, feed them dinner, and put them to bed? Or do you need someone who can help you run errands and prepare meals? Knowing this ahead of time will help you know how much to budget for child and home care.
- Ask trusted friends and family members to help out. This is often a free or much more affordable option than hiring a babysitter or caregiver.
- If you don’t have anyone available to help, don’t worry. Websites like Care.com offer background-checked, professional childcare and home care providers at different budgets.
Healthcare budget item 4: Prescriptions
After your procedure, your doctor or surgeon may prescribe you painkillers, antibiotics, or other medications to aid in your recovery. If your doctor is prescribing you medication, it’s a good idea to take it. Most insurance plans cover the cost of prescriptions, leaving you with only the prescription copay amount. If you’re not sure how much that is, check with your insurance company directly.
For patients who are uninsured, the cost of prescriptions can be prohibitively expensive. In these cases, there are some easy ways to get prescribed medications for less.
How to budget for the cost of prescriptions
- Ask your doctor or surgeon if they can tell you what prescriptions you’ll be receiving before your procedure.
- Ask your doctor if they can provide you with free prescription samples.
- Find out if there is a generic alternative to the medication. Often, generic prescriptions are a fraction of the cost of their brand-name counterparts and the active ingredients are the same.
Use a prescription saving website like GoodRx—they can help you save up to 80% on your prescriptions
Healthcare budget item 5: Time off work
If you’re having a minor procedure, you may only need to take a couple days off work. However, for procedures that require more than a few days of rest afterward, you may want to consider the financial impact of taking time off work.
The first thing you should do is talk to your employer and let them know that you will need to take time off for a medical procedure. You’re not required to tell them what the procedure is for. Most employers will do what they can to accommodate your needs.
How to budget for time off work
- Find out from your employer if there are work-from-home options available to you. This will allow you time to recover while still getting paid.
- Determine if you have short-term disability coverage through your employer. Through this, you would be able to get a portion of your paycheck while you recover. The amount you get depends. You’ll want to check with your employer on that. You can also get this type of coverage on your own, though you’d need to have it before you get your procedure.
- If you are able to, it’s a good idea to set aside a portion of each paycheck in a savings account. This money can be used to support yourself and your family during your recovery.
The medical procedure you need at a price you can afford
Keep in mind that each person and procedure is different. Some of these costs may not apply to you, or you may have situation-specific costs that are not listed. If you need help paying for your medical procedure and don’t have health insurance (or can’t afford your deductible), you may qualify for assistance. Patient Assist is a program that offers patients access to a private network of high-quality doctors at a discounted, all-inclusive rate. Learn more about Patient Assist now.