It all started with a sore throat. At first, I thought (and hoped) that it was nothing, just a little blip on the old health radar. After all, I haven’t been sick-sick in about 2 years.
Unfortunately, as the days passed, that sore throat morphed into sneezing, coughing, congestion, etc. I had caught a full-on cold. Ugh!
By the first week of February, I was starting to perk up and feel a bit better. That reprieve lasted about 3 days until the rest of the family came down with the sniffles and runny noses. My cold came roaring back with a vengeance. That’s when the cost of a cold started racking up.
On Valentines Day, I had reached my limit. Feeling downright awful, I finally caved and asked my husband to take me to the urgent care clinic. I was officially sick of being sick.
$50 and 15 minutes later, I had a diagnosis- sinus infection, and a prescription for antibiotics. Sweet relief!
I had stubbornly waited so long to go to the Dr. because it seemed silly to go for a common cold. Unfortunately, no amount of chicken noodle soup, tea, and over the counter meds were making a difference. Now I knew why. Apparently, my cold had morphed into a full-blown sinus infection, which is why it wasn’t going anywhere without a little help from modern medicine.
Adding up the damage
While I did save money since I basically stayed home for the whole month, we did have to spend on all those cold-related necessities. I decided to total it up and see just what the cost of a cold for our family really is:
- 2 boxes generic DayQuil gel capsules @ $2.79 each
- 1 bottle generic DayQuil liquid @ $3.99
- 1 bottle of Robitussin cough syrup @ $7.99
- 1 bottle Children’s Pedia Care @ $5.99
- Visit to Urgent Care @ $50
- Prescription antibiotics @ $4.43
- 1 box tea bags @ $3.99
- 1 bottle of honey @5.99
- 6 boxes of tissues @ $1.50 each
That is one costly cold! On the bright side, I was able to keep working the whole time, since I freelance from home. There were definitely days where my productivity level was non-existent, but I powered through and tried to keep up with the workload and client requests as best as I could.
*Please note that this total was for all 3 of us, not just me. I was not downing multiple packages of over the counter cold relief and cough medicine on my own!
This crummy experience taught me that it is not worth it to wait to see a Dr., even if it’s just a cold. After a week of suffering, it’s time to suck it up and see someone. I’m so glad that there’s a nice urgent care facility that opened up nearby recently. I’m also grateful that we currently have a prescription plan through our insurance.
My trip to the clinic would have been more expensive without our health insurance plan. Our insurance isn’t fabulous, but it’s not terrible, either.
I’ve had to go to urgent care for a cold that morphed into a sinus infection without insurance. It cost me $120, but after receiving antibiotics and finally getting better, it was worth it. My personal take is that your health is worth far more than any savings. It hurts to go to a Dr without insurance, but it’s better than the alternative of letting something fester. Had I waited, I would have been in much worse shape and would have had to stop working for days, maybe even weeks.
How to Save on a Cold
Planning ahead can help you cut down on the costs associated with a cold or other common illness.
Look for sales and coupons when you’re not sick and stock up on those cold essentials. When you come down with a cold, the last thing you feel like doing is getting dressed and heading out to the store. Keep your cabinets stocked with chicken noodle soup, your favorite teas, and honey.
Go through your medicine cabinet and toss old and expired over the counter meds. You may be surprised at how quickly time goes by and the medicine that it seems like you just bought is past the expiration date. Don’t take chances, just toss it and restock. The fall is a great time to do this so that you’re ready for the cold and flu season. Consider purchasing cold meds when you get your flu shot so that you’re all set for the fall and winter.
Buy common cold meds and throat lozenges when they’re on sale or when you have coupons. Buy for your whole family, because there’s a good chance that once one person gets sick, everyone else won’t be too far behind.
Pay Attention to Your Body
You know how a cold should feel. If you aren’t getting better after a few days, consider seeing a Dr. You may even have the option to use a service like TeleDoc to connect with one without even leaving home. Don’t ignore your sickness and try to power through. Do everyone else a favor and stay home if you’re coughing and sneezing all over, too!
If you’re sick and need to seek medical care, but you don’t have insurance or have a lousy plan, you have to have an emergency fund! Make sure you’re setting some money aside for medical emergencies. A cold may not seem like a big deal until it is. When it doesn’t get better and just won’t quit, it’s time to admit you may need a little help from a professional.
I’m happy to report that I’m on my last few days of antibiotics and feeling much, much better. I’m so ready to come out of hibernation. It’s going to be spring soon, right?
Have you been healthy this winter, or has your family been hit with a cold that won’t quit?