One Important Attribute To Look For Before Buying A Property: Healthcare

Before buying property in this strong housing market, there is one very important attribute to look for. And that is a property that is close to healthcare centers like a hospital or emergency care center.

Ever 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.

Before Buying, See If A Urgent Care Is Close By

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.

Healthcare Centers Are More Important As We Get older

Peas Thermo Advil Bottle

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!

Related: How To Get Subsidized Healthcare Insurance Even As A Multi-Millionaire

Your Property Should Be Close To The Best Hospital And Healthcare Centers

Before buying 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.

Related: How Does A Death On A Property Affect Its Price?

How Much Of A Property Premium To Pay For Close Proximity To Healthcare Centers

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.

If you have older parents you're taking care of or young children, owning property near a hospital or emergency care center is even more valuable. Before buying, please take a walk around your neighborhood for an hour and see what's around.

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 and Redfin 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.

Invest In Real Estate As Well

If you don't have the downpayment to buy a property, don't want to deal with the hassle of managing real estate, or don't want to tie up your liquidity in physical real estate, take a look at Fundrise, my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company today.

Real estate is a key component of a diversified portfolio. Real estate crowdsourcing allows you to be more flexible in your real estate investments by investing beyond just where you live for the best returns possible.

For example, cap rates are around 3% in San Francisco and New York City, but over 10% in the Midwest if you're looking for strictly investing income returns. Sign up and take a look at all the opportunities around the country Fundrise has to offer. It's free to look. I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate across the heartland.

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29 thoughts on “One Important Attribute To Look For Before Buying A Property: Healthcare”

  1. Bryce @ Save and Conquer

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. @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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. I’m curious to know too. As far as I can tell, my premiums are exactly the same from a year ago.

      40% premium jump sounds like robbery. Time for Obamacare for you guys?!

      1. 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.”

        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?:-)

        1. Really? Must be case by case b/c I’m not seeing it here through the private exchange with 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.

        2. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.


  11. Practical Cents

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

  14. 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?

    1. 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

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