One Very Important Attribute To Look For Before Buying A Property

Peas Thermo Advil BottleEver since writing Obamacare Is A Net Positive For America I’ve been sick as a dog. My throat hurt so much I could barely swallow. Because my throat was also swollen, it was hard to breathe and sleep as well. I called my primary care physician on Wednesday to see if he could check my throat for strep and of course he was closed until Thursday. Seriously, why would a doctor’s office be closed on a Wednesday? Perhaps to get his existing patients to enlist in his $1,500 a year Concierge Service! Smart man.

No problem. I went to a newly opened Urgent Care Unit eight blocks away instead. I had no idea such a facility existed until a good friend of mine pointed it out. The Urgent Care Unit saw me right away and my co-pay was only $5 more at $25. The nurse checked me out, took a sample of the back of my throat and ran tests. It turns out I don’t have strep but a viral infection instead. Hurray! The doctor said it’s actually better to have a viral infection for a sore throat because we’ll almost always heal ourselves within 5-7 days. A bacterial infection needs to be treated with antibiotics and could get more complicated.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics and hydrocodone anyway since he said the strep test is only 80% accurate. He’ll run some more tests and let me know whether I should continue with the antibiotics in several days. It’s interesting to note that the doctor didn’t have to send in the prescriptions to my local pharmacy. I could use the print out and get the drugs anywhere I liked. Another plus for going to an Urgent Care facility.

The office clerk mentioned the Urgent Care facility is open every day of the week from 8am-8pm M-F and 9am-4pm S-S. All the doctors are board certified and emergency physician trained. Suddenly, I’m feeling much more secure as a resident and also a little wealthier as a home owner.

WHEN WE ARE YOUNG WE DON’T CARE FOR HEALTH AS MUCH

It’s somewhat surreal to be sick while this whole Affordable Care Act launch and debate is happening. My illness is making me completely biased for Obamacare because I’m in physical pain and I’m willing to pay whatever it costs to get better. I’m sure if the bubonic plague suddenly hit all of the right wing Tea Party members, there would be much less opposition to Obamacare due to more empathy for the uninsured. I just cannot imagine the type of fear the uninsured experience when they get sick. Usually we get better as our bodies heals on its own. But during the moment of intense illness, our resolve is often tested.

As I approach the big 4-0, I’ve become more cognizant of my health. I’ve decided to do physical checkups once a year, eat less, and exercise more. I no longer have the cavalier attitude of not seeing the doctor because I think I’m Wolverine’s cousin. I used to think, “Why see the doctor when I’m sick when he’s just going to tell me to rest, drink lots of water, and take cold medicine?” Now if I don’t feel comfortable, I’m happy to pay the $20-$25 co-pay to get a professional opinion and rest my mind at the very least. It’s always better to catch problems early on than after it’s too late.

The co-pay amount really used to deter me from seeing the doctor when I was in my 20s. Now that I’m older and a little wealthier, I don’t care at all. Each visit to the doctor costs $200-$600 on average so it’s like we’re all getting a deal!

MAKE SURE YOU ASK THE PROXIMITY OF THE BEST HEALTH FACILITIES

When I buy property I’m always inquiring about the parks, restaurants, bars, water, and schools. I never once inquired about whether there are any Emergency Care centers close by, or how far away are the closest hospitals. It just never occurred to me as the last property I purchased was when I was 28. I don’t think many other people inquire as well since the average age to buy a home is between 30-33. At 36, knowing how long it takes to get to a health facility by foot or car is of tantamount importance for me and my family!

As our population continues to age, a home’s proximity to health care facilities will continue to rise in importance for home buyers. I won’t be buying a property if the closest medical facility is more than a 30 minute walk or 15 minute drive away. If you don’t get to an emergency facility within 30 minutes after a heart attack, for example, chances for survival drop dramatically. Just the other month our cruise ship turned back to the port of San Francisco after setting sail for two hours already because a passenger fell ill. I’m not sure if the passenger made it.

Financially, I’m willing to pay a 5% premium for a property which has multiple health care facilities close by instead of just one. If I’m an existing homeowner, I will lobby the community to invite more Emergency Care facilities into our neighborhood if few or none are present. It’s all about just having the peace of mind that just in case something happens, chances are high a professional will take care of you. If I ever sell my properties, I will surely have a line item in the marketing material highlighting all the medical facilities close by.

I highly encourage every single home buyer to prioritize the quality and distance of health care facilities in your new neighborhood. Map out where each facility is so you know which one to go to just in case something happens. You can use a site like Zillow.com to get a list of comparable homes sold after you type in the address. Health only grows in importance and in appreciation the older we get.

RECOMMENDATIONS

* Shop around for health insurance:  The internet has really helped lower the cost of insuring yourself and your family. eHealthInsurance has some of the lowest rates and best coverage due to its largest network. They are based right here in the Bay Area, and I have met a number of their representatives. The Affordable Care Act debacle has proven to be more expensive and more cumbersome to sign up so far.

* Check Your Credit Score: Take a moment to check your free TransUnion credit score through GoFreeCredit.com, a company I trust. 30% of credit reports have errors, which could put a serious hamper on your refinancing or new loan borrowing abilities. I had a $8 late payment I didn’t even know I owed crush my score by 100 points come up during my last refinance! The average credit score for rejected mortgage borrowers has risen to 729 due to more stringent lending requirements. Landlords will often ask for a renter’s credit score as part of his/her analysis.

* Refinance Your Mortgage. LendingTree Mortgage Refinance offers some of the lowest refinance rates because they have a huge network of lenders to provide mortgage loans, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit. If you’re looking to buy a new home, consider using LendingTree to get multiple offer comparisons in a matter of minutes. When banks compete, you win.

Sam

 

 

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Jeanette says

    First time writing.. love all that you write, as well as some of the “frugal” blogs. And don’t stop! However the only thought that came to mind, not related to the investment property part of the article is this. Why prescribe the antibiotics at all? My understanding has been that some many problems related to antibiotic resistant organisms is because of over prescription of antibiotics in the first place. Second, starting an antibiotic , then stopping isn’t good either. If it is indeed strep, then you will either get better fighting it without the antibiotics, or you won’t, and can go back to the clinic. If it is indeed viral, then you should get better pretty quickly.. I am not an MD.. just a thought. What do you think?

    • says

      You’re probably right. I’m doomed. Shouldn’t have listened to the doctor.

      What do you think I should do now since I already started? What type of non doctor are you btw? Thanks

  2. says

    Interesting point.

    I’ve considered the obvious location factors – good school district, proximity to employers / universities, aesthetics, environment – but I hadn’t considered healthcare facilities.

    I can see how that would appeal to someone with poor health. But I think there is a point of diminishing returns. The older and more infirm you get, the more likely you are to live in a retirement community for just that reason – quick access to health care.

    • says

      Well, I’m in pretty good health, have money to spend on another piece of property, am under 40 and I’m saying there is a premium for Urgent Care facilities for me. And as a good investor, one should anticipate what other people will also want and be aware of one’s own desires.

  3. says

    I am lucky to have a RN as a wife! She can triage my illnesses very well. Better yet, we generally use doctors who treat other doctors. A sure sign of excellence! Home values are based on the proximity to all services in the neighborhood. Normally, we think of schools, police, fire and shopping as those services, but we should include medical facilities.

  4. says

    Hi, I’m a new reader on your site. You have great content here, thanks for sharing all your knowledge. I recently had an emergency as well. I burned my hand with a very hot curling iron and I rushed right over to my nearest urgent care facility. The one I went to is about 10 mins away in the next town. They really are great resources to have in the community.

  5. says

    Sam,

    Excellent point. This is one of the reasons why rural real estate is less valuable than urban real estate – less access to health care.

    James

  6. says

    I’ve actually not taken certain summer jobs because of proximity to healthcare. It was at a summer camp who wouldn’t let me go for a weekend to get a treatment I needed 200 miles away, so I told them I wasn’t coming. I’ve never thought about it when looking for apartments, but it should probably make the list

  7. JayCeezy says

    There are a number of medical procedures and treatments normally done by medical professionals you cando yourself to save money and time.

    My previous residence in a small town was .9 miles from the hospital. The hospital closed (too many uninsured ER patients, and the insured population was dying off), which was one less reason to stay. Our current home is in a rural area, but UC facilities are pretty common everywhere now. We are within 15 minutes of a full hospital, 2 UC facilities, and 3 minutes from the Fire Dept. (a much bigger consideration for us in a high-risk forested area).

    Sam, I’m curious what your premiums will be like year-over-year in percentage for like coverage. Our premiums are going up >40% for the same comprehensive HMO policy, and we are considering switching to a Catastrophic Care policy which would save two healthy adults $7,200 max and $2,200 min.

      • JayCeezy says

        Sam, those numbers ARE Obamacare. It is really happening.

        Here is an article from the SJ Mercury News, about the impact in the Bay Area. And here is the money quote: “Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.” http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_24248486/obamacares-winners-and-losers-bay-area

        It will be interesting to see your rates when you get a firm bill. Price hikes don’t seem to matter to those with employer-provided coverage. Is there a price point/percentage where you would decide that the perceived value is not worth it? Glad you are getting your sore throat fixed for $25, what did the doctor say when you told him you got it sailing?:-)

        • says

          Really? Must be case by case b/c I’m not seeing it here through the private exchange with eHealthInsurance.com yet. If the 40% increase is real, then private exchanges are going to make a ton of money and I should invest!

          As far as the doctor knows, I caught a cold working too many hours at McDonald’s. Stealth.

        • moshennik says

          40% increase is real for healthy people. Very real, in fact.
          What does a price on exchange have to do with profitability though?
          In general people on exchanges will be older and sicker vs. general population (if people make logical choices), hence costs will be higher.

  8. says

    Urgent care has saved us a few times. It is always kind of funny how they say you don’t need antibiotics but give them most of the time anyway. I guess it saves you a trip back if you don’t get better.

    One part of the ACA is getting all docs to use electronic health records and e-prescribe. The theory is that if all the pharmacies are linked and all Rx’s are electronically sent, it will catch people who doctor hop for pain meds and cut out fraud. However, the system is not linked and set up to catch anything at this point. Anyway, clinics get more money if they e-prescribe Medicare or Medicaid patients’ Rx to the pharmacy. I’m sure eventually that will be the only way to do it and written Rx’s are a thing of the past. Most places already do that, so that is strange that you got a written prescription.

    • says

      Yeah, perhaps better safe than sorry mentality, and the negatives of taking antibiotics when you don’t need it are outweighed by the positives.

      Electronic health records, a no brainer. Yeah, I got a written/printed out prescription that can be taken anywhere. Pretty convenient if I had an accident somewhere far away I guess.

  9. says

    Good point Sam. We sometimes take the proximity to healthcare facilities for granted when house hunting, since we focus on ensuring other criteria are met especially when we do not yet have to worry about our health, but that’s one of the things we must always look into especially if we have kids.

    • says

      This post was literally a light bulb moment for me in terms of real estate investing and peace of mind. It may seem obvious, but for a younger person who hardly ever gets sick, it wasn’t. Hope it helps future buyers.

  10. Maverick says

    Yep, Sam, I agree with your point. I don’t understand why when folks get older, and financially independent, they move to remote areas (such as rural parts of Virginia or Carolinas) AWAY from top regional hospitals just when they will likely need them the most.

    Now another reason why medial costs keep climbing…an Aunt activated her life alert, live-in family tended to her needs, the life alert agent said they need to send an ambulance anyway. These needless ambulance trips get billed to Medicaid/Medicare. Each ambulance call is approximately an $800 billing.

  11. says

    @Krantcents Nice lucky you! That is very cool. I’ve always wondered if doctors go to see other doctors or just diagnose themselves. That’s neat you are well connected and have great doctors you can go see and know you can trust.

    Sam that’s very cool about the Urgent Care. I’ve never been myself but I know my sister lives near one and thats been super helpful for her and infant care.

  12. says

    Not a point I considered when purchasing my home, but an interesting one. Not a big deal for my family now as we have plenty of quality health care facilities locally. Something I will certainly keep in the back of my mind as I get older.

  13. says

    That’s a good recommendation. My father will usually mention this in any discussion of where to live in the future, as it’s something that apparently people will think about even more when they get much older. Often a totally overlooked but important aspect of buying a place.

  14. says

    I didn’t really think about proximity to emergency care when we bought our house, but it turns out that we are about 5 minutes away by car from the largest trauma center in the area. We are also about 10 minutes by car from our HMO hospital. With my health problems, it is definitely something we will always keep in mind. I think it is a valuable tip for other home buyers, as well.

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