How to Survive the Financial Drain of Flu Season

flu bugBy now, most everyone has been made aware by the media of the tremendous toll this flu season has taken on our health this year.  In Boston alone, there has been 750 confirmed cases of flu so far.  That is over ten times the amount of cases at this time last year.  It has gotten so bad, that Boston’s Mayor Menino declared a state of emergency and the television news show Nightline did a 48 hour segment on the epidemic spreading in Boston titled “A city in crisis”.) Our hospitals and medical centers have been taxed to their limits with patients seeking flu vaccines and treatment.  Our AFC center was seeing upwards of 100 patients a day at the peak of the media attention.

But while most people know the physical toll the flu has taken, not much has been shared about the extraordinary financial drain it will take on our country.

The center for disease control estimates that on average every flu epidemic will cost employers 10.4 billion dollars in direct costs due to hospitalization and outpatient visits. That does not include costs associated with lost time and productivity. In this economic downturn, many employees are still too nervous about taking time off from work, so even though they may be highly contagious, they drag themselves to work and the disease spreads to the rest of the work force.

And what percentage of all that money gets paid by you, the American worker? More than you probably realize. Most hard working people have chosen high deductible insurance plans to save money, which means they can be 100% on the hook for these visits. So a tough flu season not only taxes our health, it taxes our wallets. So, what can you and your family do about it?

First, there is prevention. In a recent interview with the Braintree Forum, our lead physician, Dr. Arnold Soslow, stressed the importance of simple precautions like frequent hand washing and being careful to avoid touching our faces, which the average American does at the alarming rate of once every two minutes.

Second, using urgent care facilities can save you time and money. At AFC we are a fraction of the cost and wait time of other healthcare visits.

And third, being financially cognizant of tips and tricks to saving money on medicine. Here is a short video we recently came across that outlines How to Save Money on Medicine. We also offer money saving prescription programs at our center.

This time of year is a good time to take extra precautions to keep ourselves healthy. If we are smart, we can also keep ourselves financially healthy as well.