Use of medical services likely to fall in early 2011

January 19, 2011

Over the last few years, expensive insurance premiums and rising unemployment have made Americans reluctant to spend money on costly non-essential procedures and medications. This reluctance often has led to patients skipping out on appointments and cutting back on medications.

Despite this trend, Debra Sherman of Reuters reports that there actually was an increase in spending on medical services during the fourth quarter of 2010. This brief lapse in financial conservatism could have happened for a number of reasons, including increased confidence in the economy. However, it’s more likely that people were attempting to make as many doctor visits as possible after meeting their annual deductibles. With these deductibles having been reset on January 1, it is expected that people will go back to skipping doctor visits.

It’s important to know that saving money does not have to cost you and your family sound health. There are other ways of cutting costs where you can maintain good health without breaking the bank. All you need to do is strategize:

  • Be proactive. Don’t default to any single doctor. Planning ahead and shopping around will provide you with many options. A lack of options may subject you to expensive services – more options means more prices to compare. Search your area for medical services and be open to different providers – community hospitals typically offer the same services as academic medical centers, but at a cheaper price.
  • Like we discussed last week, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about a discount. It never hurts to ask.
  • Keep a journal to keep track of all of the services you have received. When you receive your bill, match up records to make sure there are no errors.
  • Make sure to stay on top of your medical bills – this means being clear on what your insurer will and will not cover, addressing billing errors immediately, and writing everything down – if there is a dispute, it will support your argument to know who at your insurance company you spoke with and what it is you discussed.

Have you avoided care to save money? Tell us your story in the comments!


The Dangers of Inactivity

January 14, 2011

The health dangers associated with prolonged periods of inactivity have long been known to the medical community and the general public. Parking yourself in front of the television and avoiding exercise, the common wisdom goes, can lead to weight gain and deteriorated health.

However, a new study from the University of Queensland, Australia, brings to light more details regarding the dangers of sitting. According to the study, prolonged periods of sitting — even among those who exercise regularly — lead to a bigger waistline and increased levels of blood fats.

This data comes on the heels of a University College London study  that found that the risk of heart disease doubled among those who spent more than four hours a day on the computer. Furthermore, the risk of a cardiovascular event increased 125 percent for people who spent at least two hours in front of a television or computer screen after work.

What’s shocking about these findings is that regular exercise alone isn’t enough to combat several hours’ worth of sitting — something millions of Americans do everyday at their desk jobs. Genevieve Healy, the lead author of the Queensland study, suggests that regular exercise mixed with frequent breaks during the workday to stand or walk around is the most effective way to offset the negative effects of sitting.

For many of us, spending over four hours a day in front of a computer is unavoidable. Based on these findings, what do you plan to do to offset the negative effects of sitting? Let us know in the comments!


Top 5 Ways to Cut Medical Costs

January 7, 2011

The cost of healthcare escalates by the day. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t find ways to cut corners on medical costs. Become a savvy health consumer with these five tips on cutting costs — without sacrificing quality of care — brought to you by The Healthcare Survival Guide: Cost-Saving Options for the Suddenly Unemployed.

1. Find a doctor who will forgo medical fees. Yes, they do exist. You can search for doctors in your area willing to forgo fees through the American Medical Association’s website.

2. Negotiate a discount with your doctor. Doctors are often far more willing to offer a discount or a payment plan for care than you might think – in a recent survey, 61 percent of adults who attempted to negotiate a discount were successful.

3. Instead of a specialist, use your primary doctor. Family doctors, general internists and pediatricians tend to charge less than specialists and can sometimes offer the same caliber of care. If you need maintenance care for a controlled chronic condition, this may be an option for you.

4. Need dental? Try a university dental clinic. Seeking care at a university dental clinic can cut your costs greatly – in some cases, patients pay only for the necessary materials – and the dental students and interns are closely supervised. Your state dental society can help you find a clinic near you.

5. Participate in a clinical trial. The U.S. National Institute of Health’s website lists current clinical trials being held across the nation. If you qualify, you could greatly reduce the costs of your care and medication – or eliminate them altogether.


Top 5 Ways to Stay on Top of Your Medical Bills

January 5, 2011

Doctor and hospital bills are routinely rife with errors and inaccuracies – costing you precious money. Save cash and peace of mind with these five tips on monitoring your medical bills, brought to you by The Healthcare Survival Guide: Cost-Saving Options for the Suddenly Unemployed.

1. Be specific when clarifying coverage with your insurer. Before receiving a medical procedure, check with your insurer to be sure what they will and will not cover. Keep detailed records of who you spoke with and when – this information will help you greatly when disputing a billing error.

2. Address billing errors quickly and aggressively. All too often, insurance companies and doctor’s offices issue incorrect bills. Don’t be a victim: insurance companies will often reprocess a claim, saving you money.

3. BYOM – Bring Your Own Medication. Don’t waste money paying for the same drugs at the hospital pharmacy.

4. Ask if you can pay in cash. Many hospitals offer a discount on bills paid in cash rather than check or credit. It never hurts to ask.

5. Opt for a non-teaching hospital, if possible. Community hospitals offer similar care as academic medical centers, and often at a lower cost. Ask your doctor.


KAZI-FM in Austin, TX interviews coauthor Martin Rosen

October 26, 2010

KAZI-FM 88.7 in Austin, TX recently spoke with Healthcare Survival Guide coauthor Martin Rosen. On the program “Economic Perspectives,” host Hopeton Hay interviewed Rosen about some of the book’s indispensable cost-saving advice, including asking your doctor for a discount and substituting generic medication for name-brands on your prescription.

To listen to the full interview, click here: http://econpers.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/discover-money-saving-tips-from-co-author-of-health-care-survival-guide/


Video of FOX 29 appearance now available

October 18, 2010

On September 23, some of health reform’s first big changes took effect. Healthcare Survival Guide coauthor Martin Rosen appeared on FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia to explain some of the new laws.

Video of the interview is now available: http://www.healthadvocate.com/tv.aspx?v=GoodDayPhila


Watch coauthor Martin Rosen on FOX 29

September 22, 2010

Tomorrow, September 23, some of health reform’s first big changes go into effect. Insurers will no longer be permitted to deny children coverage because of a pre-existing condition, lifetime caps on coverage for those with chronic conditions will be outlawed, and adult children will be able to stay on a parent’s health plan until age 26, to name a few.

To help make sense of these new laws, Healthcare Survival Guide coauthor Martin Rosen will appear on FOX 29 tonight and tomorrow and discuss what these changes mean for you. Tonight, you can catch him on the 10 p.m. broadcast with Thomas Drayton, and tomorrow, he’ll be on at 8:15 a.m. with Mike Jerrick and Sheinelle Jones.

Don’t forget to tune in or set your DVRs!