Health Care Column


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 Health Care 
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Finances in 55: Is an HSA Right for You

Health cardOne of the most interesting health care financial products to be introduced in recent years is the Health Savings Account (HSA). A HSA can be a way for you to have more control over your health care dollars, while at the same time providing you with a way to reduce health insurance premium costs and gain a tax advantage. I recently opened a HSA, and I am quite happy with the results.

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Medical Discount Plan vs. Health Insurance

Health CareThe rising cost of health care and the increase in health insurance premiums have many turning to more unorthodox methods of accessing affordable health care services. One of the rising trends has been toward medical discount plans. These are plans that purport to offer you discounts on different health care services, for a fee.

Medical discount plans can be helpful in some cases, but you do need to be careful. A medical discount plan is not health/medical insurance, and you may not get what you pay for.

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Medical Bargaineering: 7 Tips to Save Money on Medical Expenses

This is a guest post written by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, author of 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care, Tips to Help You Spent Smart and Stay Healthy.

If you think your employer is paying for your health care, think again. You’re the one not receiving up to $10,000 per year so your employer can pay your monthly premiums. And the situation will only get worse, with higher deductibles, co-pays, employee contributions, prescription costs, etc. What will you do to stretch your health care dollar?

As a family physician I witness these problems every day. Patients worry about the cost of drugs, office visits, lab texts, X-rays, and hospitalizations. Every physician knows ways to decrease costs, but what doctor has time to explain, when we’re expected to see a patient every 10 minutes?

It’s much easier – and faster – to spend money than to think of ways to save. But if your doctor had time to discuss the situation with you, here are a few of the tips he or she would share:
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How to Choose the Right Health Insurance Plan

AmbulanceI bet your head is swimming right now with all the new acronyms you’ve been seeing after the first few days on the job. But as the old adage goes, these are good problems to have, especially in the current economy. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make in the first few weeks of starting work is what your health benefits are.

Some companies offer a few choices, some offer only one, some offer none. Regardless of your options, it’s important that you review them carefully because this will likely be one of the more importance decisions you’ll make this month.

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How to Get Ripped for Free Without a Gym

Editor’s Note: I met one of the guys behind GymJunkies.com out at a conference earlier this year. I thought it would be great if they were able to put together a guest post where they explained how you could get a good workout without spending much, or any, money at all. Here’s a guest post on how you can get in shape without the help, or membership costs, of a gym.

This is a guest post from Vic Magary of GymJunkies.com . Vic does some pretty crazy workouts and shows you how to lose fat with high intensity circuit training.

I’m fond of saying “getting in shape is simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy”…

While most trainers and diet pill companies are promising you an overnight fix or a magic bullet, I prescribe a different medication – short, but intense workouts coupled with a straightforward nutrition plan (none of that calorie counting bullshit). You’ll start to see results in seven days. By the end of 31 days, family members might not even recognize you :)

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Negotiating Your Medical Bills

Hospital Vitals MonitorIf you have medical insurance, you should receive an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company every time you visit a doctor. Have you ever looked at one? It’s amazing. You’ll see the how much the doctor billed you, how much the insurance company negotiated as an allowable rate, and the difference can be staggering. The catch-22 in all this is that if you don’t have insurance, you’d have to pay the standard rate unless you negotiated with the doctor… and negotiating with the white coat can be hard. Fortunately, it’s not as uncommon as you think, according to a New York Times article, and here are a few tips I’ve researched from the interwebs.

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 Health Care 
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Flexible Spending Account Ideas

It’s December 18th, I have $131.81 in my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to spend it on. This is doubly difficult because last year I smashed a year of spending in three months (only $300) as I overfunded my FSA when I started my new job and I spent down my former job’s FSA, all in about the same two or three month period. So, what can I do? I took a look at the list of eligible FSA expenses and broke them down into a bunch of categories: Procedures, Nice To Have Items, Stock-up-able Items, and Useless (And Perhaps Funny). (I pulled the list from some page I found)

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LasikPlus Review: Eye Exam and Consultation

Yesterday I went to my LasikPlus free eye exam and consultation to get some more information about Lasik (which apparently stands for Laser in-Situ Keratomileusis and there are in fact many different variations on the “laser-on-eye” surgery) and to also see how much it costs. When I showed up, the entire appointment is split up into three distinct parts: preliminary eye exam, doctor directed eye exam, and the pricing and scheduling consultation.

Preliminary Eye Exam

This was conducted by someone in a blue scrubs (in other words, not a doctor) and consisted of your typical eye exam things, checking for prescription, eye pressure, eye health. They also added two additional tests such as a cornea mapping, cornea thickness measure, and a night vision test, which are tests they need to tell how difficult it would be to perform Lasik on you or whether it was a good fit for you. The end of this exam consisted of taking the pupil dilating drops and waiting to see the doctor, which included watching an informative FAQ-type video about Lasik.

Doctor Directed Eye Exam

This was conducted by someone in a white lab coat who introduced himself as doctor so-and-so (I’ll be honest, at this point I had the pupil dilating drops in, I couldn’t see and so I was a little disconcerted). He checked out my prescription again and went into whether or not I was a good candidate for Lasik. Apparently my pupil is slightly larger than average but that was fine and my cornea was thicker than average, which is a good thing; there was a 5-6% chance I would need corrective surgery after the first surgery, but that was all included in the price.

I asked him whether I’d get a prescription of some kind, say for glasses or contacts, and he said that they didn’t do that, all their tests were geared towards assessing the candidacy of a patient. So if you wanted a free prescription out of it, you’re out of luck. If you wanted a thumbs up or thumbs down for eye health, you did get that.

Pricing and Scheduling Consultation

This was with someone at the front desk and this was a little hard for me because my pupil’s were dilated. They gave a 15% discount with my vision insurance provider, I assume they give this with practically all vision insurance providers, so the price was around $1400 an eye for a grand total price of $2800. Since I haven’t talked to any other providers, I have no idea where that is in the grand scheme of things (that’s just regular Lasik with a Bausch & Lomb laser).

As for payment, there were several financing options that including a 18 month 0% financing offer through Carecredit, but I haven’t had a chance to look at that.

Oh, one last thing, there wasn’t a hard sell at the Columbia location, which was something I appreciated. I hate going to a place and having them try their hardest to sell their service or product, even after I’ve told them I’m currently in a research gathering mode and not looking to make a decision at the moment.

There you have it, my LasikPlus eye exam and consultation experience, please feel free to ask any questions or share your own experiences.

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