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Shopping with Awareness

stethoscopeShopping has been a time consuming project on my list these past few weeks.  I am working on health related issues and putting new measures into practice with as much awareness as possible.  I realize that folks in other countries besides the USA might find this information unnecessary and shocking, but it is what we must contend with here and at this point in time.

In order to comply with my new health insurance policy, I must have certain tests every year.  If I do not comply between now and age 65 I will be dropped from my policy and thus not be eligible for Medicare at age 65.  (I will still need to purchase a supplemental policy to go along with Medicare and those are not inexpensive either.)

I personally pay $524.00 (US) a month for a major medical policy with a $3,000.00 deductible which requires me to co-pay for each visit.  I must see my Physician every year at least one time and I must have a mammogram every year.   I pay full price for these services until I have covered the deductible.

There is no coverage for any alternative medical treatment, massage therapy or herbal supplements.

It has taken me 3 months to plan and take care of the first requirements for 2012.  I have met and seen my Doctor, had lab work completed, and a mammogram.

Walking into the Doctor’s office cost me $600.00
Getting the lab work completed was $662.00 (My shopping paid off – see below)
And the Mammogram was $366.46

Who can afford all this?   Well not many people can find $1,500.00 and there is a tendency for some to just suffer and save the whole deductible for the Emergency Room.

I instead decided to go shopping.   I have no choice over the Physicians approved for my policy, so I interviewed several from the approved listed for my $600 and found a nice young woman who was highly recommended and willing to work with me.

Now I went shopping for Mammograms.  There are only 2 imaging centers here and they both cost the same.  One makes appointments; the other is a drop in center.   The next closest center charged the same price but I would have needed to add gas money into the equation making this option too expensive.  I chose the place with the appointments and did not have to sit and wait.   (This is new because of the Affordable Health Care Act – Insurance companies cannot randomly set the price for required Mammograms any more)

The really big SHOPPING event was center stage.   I started interviewing Labs to get estimates on the 3 lab tests that I needed to have.  One group charged over $1,000 for one of the tests, the Hospital charged $600 for the same test, an independent Lab group charged $288.00, and the third independent lab group charged $60.00.   For the last 2 labs listed, I did all the paperwork.

I chose the last lab.   Not because it was the cheapest, but because I found out all the labs use the same facility to process the actual tests and produce the results.  Because if I prepaid through my Naturopathic Physician all three of my tests came to a total of $131.00 and she will mail the results to my new Provider Doctor.

Now I will start the same process for getting the cyst removed off my spine. Remember it is $600.00 just to walk into the Doctor’s office.  This last shopping experience took me 3 months to work out all the details.   But it is good training as my partner is studying the Medicare plans.  I can see clearly how they work and how much expense and energy is going to be needed to maintain our health.  It is all good and good practice.

I am willing to be aware.   One cannot just assume that it is going to work like company or government policies have worked in the past.  I have met 3 people who are trying to get back into the work force just this week, because they are overwhelmed by the cost and time this kind of healthcare is taking and none of them have severe health problems.  (Medicare does not cover alternative treatments at all)

As Comedian Jack Benny is quoted,“GROWING OLD IS NOT FOR SISSIES!”

Do you keep a copy of your own health records?  Are you aware of all the steps necessary and all the places to look to get the best services?   Is the Government in your State working for you or against you? When you do not feel well, who will assist you with this kind of shopping?

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12 Responses to “Shopping with Awareness”

  1. Kate a.k.a. The Secret Goddess Says:

    This is pretty outrageous to me – the high cost of it all. I’m glad you were able to shop around and save where you could!
    Kate a.k.a. The Secret Goddess recently posted..“yes”My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Hey Kate,
    I feel very fortunate have insurance. I think a great many people are going to be surprised at how much work even Medicare is these days – it is a DIY project. I think everyone will need an advocate when they can not do it for themselves.

    I was really in a hard spot before Affordable Health Care because I was born with cancer – a per-existing condition which exempts me from most health care

  2. Alison Elliot Says:

    Wow, I applaud you for your efforts Patricia. This is TRUE “awareness” in action. How very wise of you to be so discerning and determined. And thank you so very much for making all of us the benneficiaries of your hard work. Much appreciated.
    Alison Elliot recently posted..What Daily Practice and “Good Sign” Hunting Have In CommonMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Alison for your kind words.
    It is quite a time consuming process and I used the computer a great deal to take care of a number of things along the way.

    I am determined not to bankrupt my family for medical needs

    I think I wanted to do a heads up about the many changes because health care is making dramatic changes and I keep working on figuring out the process for people.

    I could go work for Walmart…they don’t pay sales tax in this state and the residents here pay for all their employee healthcare. The rich get richer

  3. Patricia Says:

    I have a teaching gig at a retreat center – I will be off line for a few days be patient – I will get back to your comments as soon as I am able :)

  4. tinafreysd Says:

    Shopping malls are not necessarily the best option if you are trying to save money. In all honesty, it is not a great idea to walk into any store at all if you want to save money.

  5. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Yowza – GREAT learnings in this post, Patricia. Thank you for sharing it with your readers. I’m going to Tweet it now.

    patricia Reply:

    Thanks for the Tweet Laurie – they are so helpful

    I think all the folks going onto Medicare these days will be surprised about what they will find…

    If I can share nothing else here everyone is responsible for their own health records these day – everything xrays and dental and complying with the terms and agreements I think it is huge for people to really this

  6. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia! Good for you doing some shopping on this. I agree it’s all very outrageous indeed! What’s really sad is most people will not do the shopping you did. I have found independent labs cheapest too.

    With hubs still working we have insurance coverage. We are both 65 and cringe at the thought of the whole medicare scene looming ahead of us. Fortunately I’m super healthy and my test scores better than they were 25 years ago. Hubs, not so much. He is Mr. Pill Box. Been working on him for years to get “natural” and so far have only managed to get him off the darn statins. He’ll be paying more in pills on a monthly basis than his s.s. check if he doesn’t go alternative. He is so supportive of ME and what I do, but as for him doing it? Forget about it. Drives me nuts of course. :) He’s bad for my business! haha!
    susan recently posted..John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit ManMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    My husband does follow what I do for him and exercises well and hard and at his last physical came in at age 38 He is age 65…

    We have never had health ins. from work, which makes us very knowledgeable about self care…food, exercise and lifestyle choices are so much better than the pill routine.

    I hear you and enjoy your good information sharing

    I will come over to read as soon as I am home from this conference
    Thanks for your good words

  7. J.D. Meier Says:

    Great quote.

    I like how you shared your process and insights. I think more people will be figuring out either how to find more affordable health care, or figuring out new DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approaches.

    The costs compared to value in so many cases is ridiculous. It really pays to find somebody you trust, somebody who gets results, and somebody who cares about the costs.

    It will be a great chance for people in healthcare to innovate and find new ways to bring better care.

    Here’s a simple example using my dog. To clean her teeth, one vet wanted $600, mostly to cover the costs of anesthesia, which has risks of course. I found a service that does it for $100, produces outstanding results, and no anesthesia … so less risk to the dog.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Living Your ValuesMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    That sounds like great shopping awareness too.
    I am going to write about lots of our medical issues and discoveries as my partner gets on Medicare – It is quite a process with lots of folks hustling their products and others hiding under a bushel .

    It is hugely different from the experience with my mum 5 years ago and it is extremely time consuming – the research and the paperwork.

    The charges are quite outrageous…..but the classes have been extremely good.

    WE have been working on death plans also because in the emotion lots of expensive unnecessary decisions are made
    Patricia recently posted..The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion To Redemption ~Rodney KingMy Profile