Medical Tourism in your City

Nurses are known as the “worst” patients. I think it’s often because we either treat ourselves or we refuse treatment until we are “dying”. I am absolutely the WORST patient because I am a frugal nurse. It kills me to pay for tests I don’t need. I put off being seen because I’m afraid they will order a bunch of tests or prescribe me medications I won’t pick up. Unfortunately, this led me to be in the ER on Christmas Eve with strep throat. Sure, I could have gone to Quick Sick clinic and paid $94 for a strep test but instead I tried to hold out until I absolutely could not swallow without tears. That was >$500 mistake. So after some deep thoughts about how hard it is to keep an HSA funded, I would like to impart some wisdom about the medical system.

CALL AROUND!
  • If you know you need an annual diagnostic test please look for the best deal. Explain to your doctor that you want exact details of what they need. Have you ever made $800 in 15 minutes? I have! I called Employee Health and asked if I could get my MRI through them and they said yes! It only cost me $420 for 2 MRIs. Two phone calls, one to my neurologist and one to employee health.
  • You can use places like Advanced Medical Images, they are known to have the lowest prices. Call them and ask, it doesn’t hurt to get a quote. They even have mammogram parties. It’s true, here’s the link.
  • You want a quick point of care test done, check out the grocery store. You can get a urinalysis and a gallon of cranberry juice for under $100. Here is a local quick care clinic. Disclaimer: cranberry juice in not effective in clearing a UTI.
Look at a Calendar:
  • Annual MRIs, really, why annual. Why not 10 months? Why not 14 months? Why annually? It’s nice to have a consistent schedule. Ever have a provider say follow up in 7 months? No, me neither. I will ask if they will write in their follow up plan “follow up in 10-14 months.” I was technically supposed to get my MRI in October. So I told my neurologist, “I haven’t met my deductible this year, any harm in waiting till January?” If they write a range you can decide if you want to squeeze it in before the end of their year or wait.
Pay Attention:
  • How many times have you drawn a CBC even though the patient said they think they’ve had one done already? If you don’t move your records to where they need to go or bring them with you, you might get unnecessary tests. I thought I had a Chem 8 with my employee but failed to get the results to my PCP. Boom, extra Chem 8 I didn’t need but definitely had to pay for.
Research your Prescriptions:
  • If you know you will need a prescription, download the $4 dollar prescription list and be ready. Different pharmacies will have different medications available. Scroll through them all. Make sure your provider is aware that you want the Right Rx at the Right price. One year one type of antibiotic is cheap then manufacturers change and the next year it’s expensive. Be prepared, your provider might not know your options.
  • Use a coupon! If you go to GoodRX.com you can download a coupon. Ask your provider for a coupon. If you don’t ask they won’t know that you need or want it.
  • Talk to the pharmacist. If you go to pick up an antibiotics and it’s expensive, ask the phamarcist to help you find a cheaper alternative and then call your provider and ask for a switch. They may have a reason for wanting that exact medication but you won’t know unless you ask.

We are programmed to go to the doctor and get any test they want on site and then pick up prescriptions without asking a lot of questions. Be a thoughtful consumer, ask questions and do a little leg work before getting tests done or picking up prescription.

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