Here’s part two of my mini-series on saving on medical care. The article upon which this is based was writen by Sid Kirchheimer and originally published in Bottom Line/Personal. Today we’ll be covering tips #3 and #4. Here goes…
Tip #3: Don’t pay for a followup visit — This is one that has always bugged me… You go to the doctor for some sort of problem, they give you a course of treatment then ask you to come back in ten days. Guess what? You’re going to be billed for a brand new visit upon your return, even if the doctor only glances at you for a few seconds and then goes on his/her merry way. The most frustrating thing for us has been when our kids have had ear infections and the doctor wants them to come in for a quick followup ear check — even with insurance, that doubles the cost of an ear infection (not including prescriptions), and our kids have had a lot of ear infections. If you don’t have insurance, why not tell your doctor (during your initial visit) that you’re paying out of pocket, and ask them to waive the fees on the followup (assuming that it’s just a cursory check)? This is especially likely to work if you’re a regular patient, although it might require a bit of wrangling at the checkout desk (or with the business office), as they’re programmed to nick everyone for everything.
Tip #4: Confirm that tests are necessary — In the interest of covering their butts, it’s possible that doctors will order unnecessary medical tests. The motivation here is simple: even if they don’t think a particular test is necessary, failure to order it opens the door for future negligence lawsuits. Unless your health insurance is paying for the test, this sort of behavior can have a huge negative impact on your bottom line. And even if you have good health insurance, this sort of stuff will contribute to spiralling premiums and reduced coverage going forward. So the next time your doctor orders a test, ask him/her what they hope to learn from it. Chances are they’ll have a good answer. But if they don’t, you could save yourself some money.
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