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sick

How to Save on Medical Care Costs

Posted in Money by

It’s flu season – surprise! I got knocked out pretty badly after Christmas, and it took a whole month to get back up to speed. Toward the end, I finally acquiesced and saw a doctor (exposing myself to even worse bugs, being told to stop running for a week, and feeling better before I even picked up the prescription.. but still a $40 co-pay lighter. Ugh.) There are a lot of ways to cut medical costs stemming from colds, injuries, and even chronic illnesses, including ways to make money with your body (that don’t include working on a corner.)

  • If you’re sick or experiencing a minor injury, I’d check out a CVS Minute Clinic or MedExpress before heading to the doc or ER without health insurance.
  • Clinical trials – I’ve already made $40 this month from attempting to qualify for one study (I wasn’t eligible, but got paid anyway) and have two more scheduled. I imagine it would be a great way to get treatment for conditions or even to get on things like birth control (there are several studies going on now about Mirena, but since I already have one, I’m ineligible. They may cover the cost of the implantation, but I’m not sure.) I’m on a waiting list right now to study the effects of running with minimalist shoes – this one doesn’t have compensation, but you do get a free pair of barefoot shoes, so I hope they get funding 🙂 Of course, this isn’t going to be for everyone, and you should only sign up for the studies you feel comfortable with (which might only be ones that include motion studies, x-rays, or blood draws.) Check your local research hospital or university med school, find federally funded studies on ClinicalTrials.gov, or search private facilities on CenterWatch.com.
  • Pay your co-pay at the time of service to avoid any processing/billing fees. If they don’t advertise that they charge these fees, pay up front anyway and ask for a discount. It’s worth a shot – at the end of the day, it saves them some money. And if it’s feasible, try paying your balance in cash – the office won’t have to pay the debit/credit card company the 2-4% fee or wait for a check to clear, and they might give you a credit for the difference.
  • When visiting a doctor’s office, if it’s a collaborative practice, try setting appointments with nurse practitioner’s or physician’s assistants.
  • Planned Parenthood is great for discount contraceptives (including condoms and the pill, which usually runs around $25 for a month’s supply,) and they also offer affordable sexual health services for men and women. I’ve been treated wonderfully by PP in the past, and their sliding scale meant that I paid nothing or very little for visits with them early in my college career.
  • If you’re a current college student, you’re probably already paying some kind of fee for the health services they provide. Take advantage of it, even if the reputation is less-than-stellar.
  • Check out local colleges for dental or optometry clinics.
  • Ask for drug samples or coupons from your doctor’s office. You could also check to see if the manufacturer of a prescription you take has a discount program.
  • SET UP AN HSA! This is especially good for someone like me who has so many dental issues going on. I maxed mine out knowing I would use it all up, and if I have to spend money on my teeth, I’d rather that money not be taxed if I can help it. In future years, while I may not max it, I’m still definitely going to have one. You can use it on some over-the-counter drugs, or even things like acupuncture and massage.
  • Get in shape and eat right. This is more of a preventative medicine thing, but seriously – eat like crap, feel like crap. Your body reacts to the things you put in it! (If you don’t agree with me, juice for a week, then turn around and eat fast food the next week. Tell me when you felt better.)

How do you save on health care?

February 4, 2013
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tl;dr: I’m sick and it sucks.

Posted in Living by

When I was in college, I got sick. A lot. My final year on campus, I was basically running on a cocktail of Dayquil and ammoxicllan from November through the end of March, if not until the snow melted. I found out in February of that stretch that I had pneumonia, and had essentially been functioning at a pretty high level (working, going to class, getting homework done, probably even some partying) when I should have been hospitalized. I was able to keep doing it because I’d gotten so used to feeling so sick.

40136_607552039200_1768291_npneumonia hair! look how blonde i was… i miss that

Fast forward to the next winter, when (other than one stomach bug my entire extended family, almost all 20 of us, caught at Thanksgiving & a bad ear infection right after) I feel great! I didn’t get a cold once. I thought that whatever had been wrong with me had cleared up and I was in the clear, but it looks like I just got one good year, because I’m on week three of this head cold, body ache thing. I’m so frustrated because Sixx is coming to visit next week and I was looking forward to finally exploring the culinary offerings of a new city, hitting the bars, and doing fun things that don’t include a lot of Kleenex and my bed. I saw doctors and specialists on and off beginning my sophomore year of high school for things ranging to dangerously low blood pressure, black outs, pupura (if you don’t know what that is, don’t google it- you’ll regret it), I even passed out while playing my tenor saxophone in a December performance. Not fun. Every test I ever went through was normal, except for one showing an enlarged spleen. They never determined if it was causing any problems, but I know it definitely effects me when I’m sick, because it swells even bigger and is really painful. (Mono tests, which would explain the spleen thing, were negative as well. They eventually stopped even testing me for it.)

I’ve felt so crummy the last two days that I’ve skipped the gym and gotten in bed as soon as I got home. Last night, I slept from 8p-5a, then for another hour before I got out of bed. And it just makes the depression creep back in. I guess it was one thing when I was depressed and just wanted to be in bed. Now that my head is right, my body is tired, and it’s frustrating.

I know that there are people who have it worse. People who have diagnosed medical problems. People who have undiagnosed medical problems because the doctors can’t seem to pinpoint what their problem is. Maybe I still am one of those people and there is something wrong with me. But after dentalfest 2012-2013, I don’t have any more time/money to put into fixing whatever it might be.

January 9, 2013
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