It was a Monday morning, a few weeks ago, and I was interviewing a new oncologist. Yes, interviewing because he was applying for a job, a really important job. My clients have heard me say this before. You are in charge of your health care. It is up to you to assemble a team of professionals and experts. They work for YOU. Do these doctors answer all of your questions? Do they answer the questions you don’t know enough to ask? Do you have confidence in them? If not, find another. It is only at this initial meeting that you are truly in control, because when you really need them, when you really need to rely on their expertise, you better be sure that you are prepared to cede to them an awful lot of control. I had an excellent meeting with the doctor and he has been welcomed to my team.
It has now been three years since my little health adventure and August will mark the three year anniversary of the end of my radiation therapy. Though I am not taking any medication or treatment I still incur tens of thousands of dollars of testing every year. Blood tests. CT Scans. Doctors’ visits. It costs a lot of money to prove I’m still here. My new oncologist had the pleasure of reviewing my latest semi-annual CT Scan. Each of these costs me $3,000. If I need this, I need it. My question was whether I still did. The answer, maybe not. We discussed this and decided that my next CT Scan could wait till May 2020, three months after I go onto Medicare. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
It was a few days later and it was time for my annual eye exam. The doctor saw something that got his attention. He called it a macular abnormality. He didn’t think that it was the beginnings of macular degeneration, but he wasn’t positive. He wanted me to see a specialist. So I asked, “Is this something that we’re going to monitor and I should check-in with a specialist after Medicare kicks in next February or should I stop at their offices on my way home?” The doctor said that it wasn’t an emergency but that it shouldn’t be put off till next year. Again, no unnecessary tests or procedures, but we don’t skip that what needs to be done. I contacted an ophthalmologist friend and was in his office the next Monday. The results – no problem. The first doctor did not overreact. He was right to express concern. The specialist, armed with the most up-to-date technology, was able to offer a more comprehensive diagnosis.
We talk about this often. Is every blood test necessary? Can the results be shared with everyone on the team? It is up to us to take charge.
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There is an advantage to being billed for your insurance, for knowing that your policy has been paid. Most health policies don’t charge extra for paper bills. I believe in online banking. I authorize my bank to pay my policy, usually the first week of the month for the payment due on the first of the next month. The payment comes out of my account around the 28th and I know that I am safe. I try to get all of my clients to do this. Sadly, not everyone listens. Two of my Medicare clients lost their Part D (Rx) policies because their auto-drafts failed. This happens. They will not be able to purchase prescription coverage again till this year’s Open Enrollment in October.
Even worse are the people who insist on having their Medicare Advantage premiums or their Medicare Part D (Rx) premiums come directly from their Social Security checks. Think about this. You are asking the government to write a check to the insurance company for an amount that changes every year. What could go wrong? Lots! According to Kaiser Health News, Social Security screwed up the coverage of over 250,000 people. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it was discovered that these people hadn’t paid any premiums this year. Over 43,000 Aetna clients were affected. Humana, over 33,000. Some of these people were cancelled and will hopefully be reinstated. All of them owe back premiums that will have to be repaid. This is a preventable problem. All it takes is a bill in the mail.
You are in charge of your health care. Whether we are talking about assembling your health care team, making sure that you only get the tests that you need, or just verifying that your monthly premium is paid, it is your responsibility to take care of you. What could be more important?
Picture – LOW CARB Cherry Pie – David L Cunix