Friday, April 17, 2009

Harvard 'splains how to cut health costs


Besides getting ‘scripts for larger doses and cutting pills in half (some kinds), how else can we save money on health during this mess?

Our buds at Harvard have some ideas. First, develop a good relationship with your primary doctor. He or she should realize you have financial constraints and not goldplate things. The doc can also suggest ways to stay healthier. (The presupposes a relationship some people have, some don’t)

Don’t go the Emergency Dept (they love to call it that) unless you have to. First call the doctor and try to get advice over the phone or an appointment. Sometimes they send you to the ED. It’s very expensive to go to the ED and you do not get the same care without insurance as you do when you have it.

Maybe Urgent Care or one of those in-store centers will do fine.

If you are on meds, stay on them, as a general rule. Unless you have been on a long time—ask…maybe you don’t need it. Don't just "stop" medicines, ask.

Even if your plan, if you have one, does not require this, consult with your internist or family practice doctor first before seeing a specialist. You might pick the wrong type of specialist.

Forget those drug ads. Older drugs are often perfectly or even more effective. (I love the part in the ads where it says, “This may cause death.” May cause death—this may kill you!) Of course, you get generic every time you can, right?

Make sure you get only screening tests that you need.

If the doctor orders an MRI or some other expensive test, question it. Ask!

If you having a heart attack or stroke, you need immediate care. Other aches and pains can wait…for awhile. If the doctor says let’s apply the test of time, do it.

Discuss end of life issues—this is where care gets very expensive. Sometimes hospice could cut in sooner.

Eat veggies, don’t scarf processed sweets all day, walk or exercise, don’t smoke. Forget falling apart. You can’t afford it.

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