Save Yourself an Arm and a Leg

Ever feel like the guy in this cartoon?  Except instead of filling your car up with gas, it’s medical bills that are piling up?  Maybe you don’t have medical bills but you avoid going to the doctor until you’re on your deathbed because you’re afraid of what that might cost.

I know that I’ve been in that boat before.  Remember that post about my husband having a brain tumor?  Well you might imagine that with the cost of multiple physician visits, three different MRI and CT scans, having not only one but two of the top physicians in the nation as the lead on my husband’s case, and a four hour surgery we might be buried in medical bills.

Well I’m here to say that was not the case, although it very well could have been.  In fact I spent several sleepless nights worried about how we could pay for it.

So how did we get so lucky?  It didn’t have so much to do with luck but more to do with understanding our insurance benefits.

I put together a few tips that really work and can save you some serious cash.  That way you can save your arm and leg for things like paying for gas and dinner and a movie. J

In-network providers

Make sure that your physician accepts your insurance.  This may seem like a “no-brainer” but I run into people all the time who visit out of network providers; which means higher costs for you.

If you’ve recently gotten new coverage, call your insurance company and your physician’s office before your appointment to make sure you’re covered under the new policy.  You may worry that a phone call to your insurance company may take a long time, I won’t lie, it may take a couple minutes but those few minutes can save you lots of money.

Another tip is to use Healthgrades.  Several providers keep up to date information, including accepted insurances on their profiles.

Utilizing government insurance benefits

A new healthcare bill was put into effect on January 1, 2012 that allowed insured individual certain benefits at no charge; things like an annual physical, colonoscopy and pap smear no longer require even a co-pay.

All insurances interpret this differently so make sure to check your policy before you’re appointment to avoid unnecessary charges.

Avoid the emergency room

I know that when you’re making dinner and you slice your hand wide open the first place you think of for treatment is the emergency room.  Instead, visit an urgent care clinic.

If it’s stitches that you need, any MountainStar primary care clinic can get you stitched up and you can leave with just a routine co-pay versus an emergent visit which depending on your policy, can range anywhere from $100 – $250.  I don’t know about you but $20 or $30 sounds much better!

Imaging centers

If you find yourself in a situation where you might need an x-ray check with your physician’s office first.  They may have access to an x-ray machine in their office.  Again, you’ll avoid the high imaging costs and typically just pay a co-pay.

If you need an Ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan try an imaging center.  At MountainStar Utah Imaging Centers, costs for these scans are much lower; additional benefits include extended hours and easy parking.


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