How to save money on healthcare in current economic environment?

04:25 PM | 25 Jun, 2019
How to save money on healthcare in current economic environment?
The health care industry in Pakistan relies on imports including medical equipment, supplies, and medications, raw materials for locally manufactured medications, and instruments for laboratory and radiological tests. Patients in Pakistan have already noticed the rising costs of health care services due to the depreciation of Pakistani Rupee, ranging from medications to tests and procedures. The economic forecasts indicate that the worse is yet to come. This will have serious implications for patients, especially for those suffering from chronic ailments including high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, kidney problems, liver diseases, and cancer. In this article, I offer some suggestions to patients to manage healthcare expenses in this time of economic distress.


If you have a chronic disease that requires regular visits to your doctor, do not skip those scheduled visits even if you are feeling well. Your chronic disease might have changed its course, necessitating a modification in treatment. In addition, health care professionals are trained to detect and prevent any complications that may arise from your underlying medical condition. Early detection and management of such complications can help you save a fortune in the future due to potentially prolonged hospitalization, major intervention, or surgical procedure. You may make economical arrangements with your doctor to save the cost of travel such as sharing test results through mobile communication or video conferencing for consultation on minor issues.


You can adopt several lifestyle interventions to reduce your healthcare expense that cost nothing or are much cheaper than medical treatments. Few examples of such interventions are:-

  1. Weight loss of 10 Kkg can help you reduce your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg, control your blood sugar, and avert heart problems.

  2. Daily aerobic exercises like brisk walking or running can help you decrease lower blood pressure by 5 mm Hg, control blood sugar, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  3. Eating plenty of fruits, and vegetables, nuts, and legumes may lower blood pressure by 11 mm Hg.

  4. Dietary salt restriction can reduce your blood pressure by 5 mm Hg.

  5. Quitting smoking helps prevent heart disease, stroke, blockage of arteries in legs, and chest infections.

  6. Avoiding fried foods, sweets, sodas, and junk food can help to regulate your blood sugar and prevent heart attack.

  7. Avoiding spicy and fried foods as well as erratic eating habits can stop heartburns.

  8. Eating a diet rich in fibers and staying active can help avoid medications for constipation.

You should talk to your physician as well as consult reliable online resources for more information about healthy lifestyle choices.


You may ask your doctor about the minimum number of consultations and treatments that are critical to managing your health problem. Your doctor can also guide you to cost-effective yet reliable places to get your tests done. Similarly, expensive medications are not necessarily better. Several pharmaceutical companies offer high-quality medications at lower prices due to the sheer volume of their sales as well as competitive pressure. If you feel that the cost of medications is beyond your budget, you can ask your doctor to prescribe inexpensive yet effective alternatives. Your doctor may also be able to eliminate not so vital medications including vitamins, supplements, or stomach medications that you may not need anymore.


Healthcare professionals are well aware that expensive is not necessarily better and private sector hospitals are not essentially superior to public sector hospitals. There are many health care providers and places that offer high-quality care at affordable prices. You may ask your friends, family members including doctors, and other patients for testimonials regarding cost-effective options, especially when it comes to surgical procedures.


Besides public health facilities, many philanthropists and trust organizations offer medications, procedures, and overall care at discounted rates or even free. Your healthcare providers including doctors and nurses as well as other patients may be the best resource to guide you to such programs. In addition, do take advantage of the health insurance plans from your employer or government if you are eligible.

It may be tempting to compromise on your health in the current economic environment. However, you should never forget that your health takes priority over everything else including but not limited to educational and marital expenses of your children.  If you are suffering from a chronic ailment, stay in touch with your health care provider to devise an economic care plan. A serious or life-threatening complication down the road can jeopardise your finances as well as personal and family life.

Dr. Salman Tahir Shafi is an American trained nephrologist and is currently serving as a Professor of Nephrology at Sharif Medical and Dental College.


Pakistani rupee exchange rate against US dollar, Euro, Pound and Riyal - 22 February 2024

Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 22, 2024 (Thursday)

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.6 for buying and 282.4 for selling.

Euro comes down to 300.2 for buying and 303.2 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 350.6 for buying, and 354.1 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.2 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.45.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 22 Feb 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)
Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 279.6 282.4
Euro EUR 300.2 303.2
UK Pound Sterling GBP 350.6 354.1
U.A.E Dirham AED 76.2 76.95
Saudi Riyal SAR 74.45 75.2
Australian Dollar AUD 181.15 183.15
Bahrain Dinar BHD 743.32 751.32
Canadian Dollar CAD 207.15 209.15
China Yuan CNY 38.89 39.29
Danish Krone DKK 40.38 40.78
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.74 36.09
Indian Rupee INR 3.37 3.48
Japanese Yen JPY 2.10 2.18
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 902.41 911.41
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.6 59.2
New Zealand Dollar NZD 171.68 173.68
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.43 26.73
Omani Riyal OMR 725.96 733.96
Qatari Riyal QAR 76.76 77.46
Singapore Dollar SGD 207.1 209.1
Swedish Korona SEK 26.53 26.83
Swiss Franc CHF 316.9 319.4
Thai Bhat THB 7.93 8.08


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