Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Most of you noticed that I did not have a column last week. You might have also noticed that I missed a column back in January. I love my readers, so I’m going to get real with you. During both of those instances, I was in the hospital. You can retract those gasps, I am not dying nor am I being treated for a horrible disease, but I have been suffering from some very unfortunate gastrointestinal problems.
While I was laid out in my last three-day stint of “luxury” complete with room service and a bedpan, it dawned on me that I am not taking charge of my personal health. You may be thinking: Brittany, how does this concern my finances? Well, since the end of January through February, I have spent $200 out-of-pocket for doctor visits and medicine. This does not include the bills I’m going to get from the hospital of expenses my insurance didn’t cover.
While I could not avoid my health problems, I could avoid the way they were being handled. I didn’t speak up enough to my primary care physician, which led to multiple office visits and multiple co-pays. I didn’t speak up when my first specialist wasn’t giving me the attention I needed, which led me to waste money on him and have to pay another co-pay at a new specialist’s office. I didn’t speak up when I was being prescribed slews of medicine that cost a lot of money that I didn’t really need. Do you see my point?
I’m sure a lot of you are reading this and have had similar experiences. That’s why I’m sharing my solution with you. It’s called a personal health journal:
Document your medicines
I can’t tell you how many times a doctor has asked me, “have you ever taken [insert medicine here]?” I would reply, “I don’t think so.” Once I got the medicine from the pharmacy and saw the pill, I realized I had taken it and it didn’t work. You should document every medicine you’ve been prescribed, and take note of how it affected you and if it made you better. This way, if a doctor tries to prescribe you something, you can confidently ask for a different medication.
Document your procedures
Keep track of every ultrasound, x-ray, scope and lab test you have done. I had tests done in the hospital that I already had done a month before, but didn’t speak up. If I had, I could have saved myself from having to go through a redundant test that is going to end up costing me money because as you know, insurance companies rarely cover 100 percent of anything. Documenting lab work is tricky; because doctors rarely tell you all the tests they are running. It is important to question every test and question the reason for each test. It is your body, and you have a right to know.
Speak up during doctor visits
Sometimes, I get scared to tell a doctor all my problems, especially if they may be unrelated. I don’t want to be labeled as a “drama queen” or a “hypochondriac”. However, you have to pay for every visit you make, so I like to use the two birds with one stone approach. For example, you go to the doctor for a stomach bug and while you’re there you ask, “Hey doc, would you mind taking a look at this weird rash on my back?” It’s just that easy. Going to a doctor is a service that you pay for. If you wanted a refill on your sweet tea at a restaurant, would you just sit there and say nothing? Heck no. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth everywhere, including at the doctor.
Document your symptoms
If you are having a chronic problem, like I am currently experiencing, make sure you are keeping track of all your symptoms no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. Write down where the pain or discomfort is, how the pain feels, how long it lasts, etc. This is going to save you money, because it could end up saving you doctor visits and tests you don’t need. The more information the doctor has on your condition, the quicker they can diagnose and treat you.
That’s all I have for you this week my dear budgeteers. I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day, despite the fact that I couldn’t give you budget pointers this year. You guys are pro’s by now, so I’m sure you did just fine. Like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BudgetBrittany and follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany.