How to minimize unexpected medical spends

Written by Lisa Pallavi Barbora

Lisa Pallavi Barbora is a Senior Consultant for Content at WFAN. Lisa is also a founder of In her earlier avatar, she was a National Writer and Consultant for HT Mint - a premier business journal in India.

June 29, 2021

Thanks to the sudden onset of the second wave  of the COVID-19 pandemic, many young, healthy and unsuspecting individuals found themselves in hospital ICUs within days of being diagnosed with the viral infection. Many others had to go through this with their elderly parents, who spent days being admitted in the hospital.

The emotional and mental trauma aside, hospitalisation costs inched up in the pandemic as demand outstripped supply. Add to that costs related to testing and medicines, you will have a financial stress to deal with as well.

Poor health, even outside of a pandemic, can become a serious financial burden if unchecked. There are many ways in which you can prevent a health crisis from becoming a financial one. Here are some tools to help you.

1. Relevant insurance

Adequate health insurance can save you a lot of financial heart ache.

As a basic hygiene, you must have a  comprehensive health insurance policy which will kick in to reimburse or give you cash primarily for hospitalisation expenses.

Some also cover required pre and post hospitalisation expenses. Make sure your health insurance policy covers the entire family including children and do get a relevant one for your parents. There is usually a waiting period of a few months or even a year when it comes to pre-existing diseases, it means that you can’t claim expenses if you are hospitalised due to an illness you already have; the earlier to take a health insurance policy, the better it is.

There is a specific COVID related health insurance policy as well, it covers COVID specific hospitalisation expenses and it is something that you should consider adding as well.

Other than the basic health insurance, some may require add-ons and riders like  maternity cover, critical illness cover, personal accident cover and so on. Have a look at these too while signing up for a general health insurance cover.

Health insurance premiums are very reasonable if taken at an early age and at a time where you are in good health.

Don’t delay this aspect, as it provides a great umbrella to protect you from high costs of treating illness, specifically where you may need hospitalisation.

2. Preventive testing

When it comes to diagnosis for critical illnesses, the earlier done, the better it is for finding resolutions and treatments. In order to get an early diagnosis, you have to be regular with preventive testing like comprehensive blood tests, scans and so on. After the age of 40, it’s recommended that both men and women get an annual comprehensive investigation done; it helps to establish the state of health and also prevention if there is an onset of any serious illness which gets detected early.

While these tests don’t come cheap, the treatment of illness once it’s become severe can cause a much greater financial dent.

Not just from a monetary perspective but also from the point of recovery, an early diagnosis through regular preventive testing is always a better outcome.

3. Focus on food and fitness

Your health is not external to you, rather you have control over the outcome of your health. This control comes from how you treat your body and your food. There is no substitute to healthy eating and exercising your body.

No amount of doctor’s prescriptions can fill in the gap if you don’t take care of your health.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy indulging in your favourite foods or don’t sleep in on Sundays. It means that you don’t overdo junk and unhealthy foods, especially sugary foods and it means that you put in at least an hour of regular exercise three to four times a week. Regular yoga and meditation techniques are some other ways to keep your body relatively fit.

Being regular with a good active workout, it could simply be a brisk walk every morning, goes a long way in keeping your body healthy.

A healthy body not only leads to a healthy mind, but also minimises illnesses by increasing immunity and reduces consequent financial expenses linked to lifestyle diseases.

Lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, chronic back pain and hyper tension are a cause of many other niggles in the human body and mind. Eventually to relieve pain we look towards effective medication, but the true relief can only come from taking adequate care of your body. The lower spend on medicines and hospital visits is a side bonus.

The saying, health is wealth, has never been as compellingly accurate as it is today. Small steps as mentioned above can really help you manage the financial impact of health is a gainful manner, not just through the pandemic, but throughout the rest of your life. Minimise your medical spends and maximise your health, try to focus on whatever actions you need to do now to achieve this outcome.  

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