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December 28, 2007


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If you belong to a Health Plan that has Health Care Coaching as part of a free offering. Take advantage. Some of the organizations that provide coaching don't give advice as far as which option you should go for but they give you all of the facts so you can make an informed decision. There are usually more than one option. Take Prostatitis for example. There are a few different options to take. Each has different risks and each has almost the same success rate. Some are less expensive some more. It is about what you want. A lot of times a Doctor will tell you "you need this done" and we listen to the Doctor because they are an M.D and we aren't. They usually have our best interests in mind and are not looking for extra money. They do, however, have preferences (maybe it's the region of the country you are in, or the hospital system affiliated with their practice) but you can still ask about options, explore them and make an informed decision.

Also use the online HRA (health risk assessment) tools that your plan may offer (if they don't check out webmd,, and get a look at your current health status. Find risks and eliminate them. It will save you money and keep you around as a healthy person longer.

And I try again! Thanks for the chance...

You can ask your physician if he/she has samples of any of your medications, particularly if you are tempted to stop taking a medication or not fill it. They will not have samples of generics but if you have a brand name medication that does not have generic available yet, chances are your doctor will have or can get samples and will save them for you or give them to you when available.

Also take advantage of some of the low-cost generics that some stores advertise for $4.00 (Giant Eagle, Wal-Mart, etc.) I have been able to get my thyroid medication for $4.00 a month for quite some time now and it has been a real savings.

I too am switching to a high deductible plan with a health savings account. I am very excited at the opportunity to manage my health myself and save as much money as possible. Here are some things that I am considering:

1) Utilize new clinic establishments that rely on nurse practitioners rather than doctors for the simple stuff.

2) Utilize generic/antibiotic offers from retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Meijer. $4 generics are great, and some free antibiotics are awesome.

3) Use CVS for prescriptions in other cases with $25 gift card for new prescriptions or transfers... if the $25 gift card means a profit for me.

4) Take advantage of health/wellness incentives. My plan gives $100 gift certificates for completing various preemptive health tasks... like completing an annual health assessment, quit smoking (I am not eligible... because I don't smoke), losing weight, etc.

That is really it, so far. I will likely start doing some regular exercising as part of the weight loss process (I have about 20 lbs. I am looking to lose). Also, healthier food choices will be in order, even though I am not that bad, as it it.

1) Utilizing your health plan's prescription drug mail order program will provide additional savings. Typically, the mail order program will provide a 90 day supply for 2 copays as opposed to 1 copay for a 30 day supply if you pay retail. However, under a HDHP it works differently since you pay the full cost of the drug.

2) Using in-network doctors whenever possible.

3) Utilizing primary care physicians instead of specialists, mini-med clinics instead of primary care physicians.

4) Use Urgent Care Units instead of Emergency Rooms.

From doctor's blogs: they admit freely that sometimes they order tests for "defensive reasons" only, i.e. not because they think you need the test but because you might sue them if they miss it. Even if the risk of the test is higher than the chance of whatever benefit you might get from the test itself. One suggestion from them was that you ask "doctor, do I really need it?" if you aren't sure. One poster says that he routinely asks his doctor if he would order the test for his family if he were paying out of his pocket.

You may also want to ask what is the probability of your having whatever the condition they are testing you for. If you are healthy (i.e. symptomless), ask if the test is recommended by the USPSTF: a study of tests done on routine physical exams found that over half of the doctors order tests that aren't recommended, even those for which USPSTF says "risks are likely to outweight benefits".

This is pretty interesting reading from Harvard Medical school:

For those without prescription coverage, besides Wal-mart's $4.00 plan for some generics (check their web site for a list of included meds), mentioned in another post, Costco has very good prices on many meds. You do not have to be a Costco member to use their pharmacy, but you can't write a check there if you're not a member, so take cash or your debit card if you don't want to join. A medication I buy each month that costs $160 at one local pharmacy and about $100 at Wal-Mart only costs me $18 at Costco! Check the web site for prices.

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