Medical Take Charge

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I think we can all agree that our healthcare “system” is broken.  Because we are self-employed we pay for our own medical insurance which hovers around $375. a month for each of us, until January 1, 2018 and my premium for the same plan will shoot up more than $200. per month.   There have been times over the years that we have done without medical insurance and have just paid cash for our occasional medical needs and not only is it easier to navigate the medical system, it’s cheaper.  Now I’m not going to lay out some incredible plan to not have to pay your medical insurance premium but to do it all cash all the while walking on clouds, but what I can tell you about is my experience with paying cash.  Here’s the dialogue I had with a local OBGYN office:

ME: Hi I’d like to make an appointment please.

THEM: Sure, (and she presents me with an appointment 1 month out).

ME: I’m a cash patient

THEM: Oh!  Ok, would you like to come in tomorrow morning?

ME: So cash gets me in sooner huh?

THEM: we reserve a couple spots every day for cash patients

There was a time in 2010 (that lasted for 2 years) that I had no medical insurance at all and everything was cash, right in the middle of the economic collapse our nation suffered.  Unfortunately I had to see a couple specialists in Orange County.  Each of them had cash prices and I received appointments that were fast and accommodating.  One time my doctor even said that if I conducted (she handed me the swab) a simple swabbing myself (in her office), that I would not be charged for the procedure.  Done!  Welcome to “do it yourself” medical care!  In each case, in each office, I was able to receive a cash discount for care.  Now I know what you might be thinking . . . yeah, but what about surgery?  Hospital stays?  Emergency room care?  Well I can tell you that EVERYTHING is negotiable, if you’re paying cash.  Sometimes having medical insurance is more of a pain than it’s worth.  Last year I burned my hand and arm with hot carmel and I went to the ER.  I had insurance at the time and got stuck paying a $2,000. deductible and more than $750. in copays and percentages!  All they did is give me a tetanus shot, a morphine shot, and changed my bandages and put some ointment on it.  So, what does all this mean?  Well, I think for me these experiences made me more discerning in any medical situation and I learned how to take charge of my medical care.  Paying cash afforded me the opportunity to go to whatever doctor I wanted to.

So if you don’t have medical insurance, where could you start taking charge of your health care?  Well, did you know that you don’t need a doctor’s referral to get blood work done and that you can have it done as often as you’d like?   We use a lab called Walk In Labs.  We order our blood work as we see fit, which may be once or even twice a year.  Then we take the reports to the doctor and she keeps a copy for her files and tells me if we need treatment on anything.  My husband just finished losing a bunch of weight so he had his blood tested before and will be doing it again soon, to determine if there has been any changes in his cholesterol.  Even if you have insurance, you can take your blood work with you to the doctor and save yourself an office visit, knowing that most blood work is done over the course of two visits (getting the referral and then reporting back to your referring physician).

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