Aside from failing entirely to care for ourselves medically or the extreme option of death, how can we try and trim our medical expenses? After years in and around the insurance industry, I have a number of suggestions. All will require a bit of investigation on your part. This effort may range from actually reaching a live customer service representative from your insurance company to reading some of the fine print in the coverage manual they send you annually. Your efforts, however, will save you money.
Suggestion: Utilize Your General Practitioner
I’ll bet you $1 that your co-pay to see your GP – and in some cases a specialized Family Practice physician – is at least half the amount you pay to see a specialist. This amount refers only to the “face time” with the doctor and doesn’t include any treatments, medications or tests that might be ordered. In my case, I pay $15 to see my GP and $30 to see my orthopedic surgeon, neurologist, neurosurgeon, OB/GYN, and allergist.
Now, I am not advocating that you cease to see all physicians who are specialists immediately. They are specialists for a reason and you were referred to them – probably by your GP – for their specialized knowledge and treatment expertise. But how long ago was did that referral take place and are you actively receiving treatment and monitoring of your condition from the specialist?
For instance, after a car accident three years ago, I saw an orthopedic surgeon a couple of times. I received treatment by a neurosurgeon and special testing from a neurologist for residual nerve problems for over a year. The neurosurgeon prescribed pain medication for me which I’ve taken on and off for three years. However, I haven’t needed to see him for almost two years except to get the medications reordered. Solution? I called his office and they were happy to send my GP copies of his notes and even threw in a letter condensing my history. My GP now renews the prescription as needed and I’m only paying $15 for the effort, not $30.
If you’ve already been evaluated by an allergist and are on a treatment program that hasn’t changed in two or three years, consider asking his or her office whether you GP can take over. Ditto those who were prescribed an antidepressant over two years ago by a psychiatrist and who aren’t experiencing any symptoms or side effects. Women who are not pregnant and don’t have any history of gynecological disorders can have annual or biannual PAP smears done at their GP’s office. And you know what? GP’s are qualified as well to sign off on your child’s return-to-school physical as opposed to seeing a pediatrician.
I will reiterate that I am not advocating that anyone immediately stop seeing their doctors who are specialists. What I am suggesting is that you ask them whether your condition is stable enough to now be monitored by your GP. For those appointments that can now be made at your GP’s office instead of a specialist’s, you’ve just saved probably 50%.
Good Luck & Good Health to you!
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