People vary in how well they take care of their health. Some people avoid going to the doctor at all costs, while others seek immediate treatment when they discover a health problem. What is the right balance? Ignoring health problems can be costly to your health and finances, but so can visiting the doctor too often. In this article, I’ll explain why and how you can strike a better balance in seeking the health care you need.
Are you the kind of person who goes to the doctor right away? Or are you the opposite, likely to end up in the emergency room with icy blue toenails? How you obtain health care depends on your personality and may be affected by your family’s behavior, your financial resources, and your previous health care experiences.
The 2012 book Your Medical Mind by Drs. Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband explores how healthcare professionals and individuals Make better decisions about your health. There was no mention of the financial impact of healthcare decisions in their work, but my financial planning brain immediately put two and two together. If you can identify your own healthcare personality and learn how to make better healthcare decisions, you can save a lot of money!
A maximalist is someone who wants to explore the possibilities of maximizing health. They may be more likely to hire specialists, seek alternative care, and undergo all available screenings. Financial costs aside, why would this be a bad thing?
The risk of “fascioma”
Your body is constantly dividing and dying. In fact, cellular mutations that can turn into cancer occur frequently, and your repair system does an excellent job of eliminating most of them before they become a problem.
Sometimes cell turnover can lead to benign permanent changes – cysts in the liver and kidneys and uterine fibroids are perfect examples. Most of the time, these changes cause no trouble and you don’t even know they exist. Problems can arise when they show up on tests for some other medical problem.
These incidental findings are nicknamed “fasciocytomas.” Fasciocytomas are a fascinating little finding on a scan, but they may not be important. But what happens next? it depends.
In our controversial medical world, some doctors are more risk-averse than others. Many doctors may reassure you and say not to worry. Others may have follow-up scans to make sure nothing changes in the future – of course, this costs money! Some even recommend a biopsy. A biopsy costs more money, and you risk complications from the surgery.
If you need a scan due to a health problem, of course you should. But stay away from those full-body screening scans! These scans can land you and your wallet in trouble. You’ll waste time and “worry time” on frivolous things, and you’ll be at risk for medical malpractice if further testing is needed.
Finally get medical label
Doctors are paid based on the amount of work they do. The cost of a visit depends on the level of medical decision-making. If your question is simple and doesn’t require testing or much brainpower, your bill will be more than if your doctor had to be a top-notch detective, order more tests, or consult with a specialist. Basically, the more you complain, the higher your bill will be.
To support these higher bills, doctors must also provide a diagnosis in the bill to verify the level of service they provided you. They cannot charge you for level four barbs. Because they must verify their accusations, you may end up with a diagnosis in your medical records that you didn’t expect.
For example, let’s say you follow your doctor for a routine check-up for high blood pressure. You think you’re fine, but your blood pressure in their office is a little high, at 145/95. Your doctor will ask you questions to determine the cause of the increase. Are you taking your medications correctly, eating a lot of salt, or are you stressed? You mentioned that you were very stressed at work and that you were not sleeping well because you were worried that you might lose your job. She then encourages you to work on relieving your stress and hopes to see you in a month to recheck your situation.
What is your diagnosis? You thought it was just high blood pressure, but because your doctor spent extra time counseling you about stress and anxiety, you may now have an additional diagnosis of anxiety. Is this a big deal? It’s possible, yes. You may now be charged for Level 4 access instead of Level 3, which will result in increased billing. But there’s a bigger problem. With the new anxiety label, if you need to apply for disability insurance, life insurance, or long-term care insurance, it could result in you paying higher premiums than someone without the label.
It’s important to share your condition with your doctor, but make sure you understand all diagnoses listed in the chart and ask your doctor to note problems that have been resolved or are no longer relevant. This can save you a lot of trouble if you need to purchase insurance.
What is the right balance?
What’s the best way to get health care without going overboard? First, remember that more health care does not mean better health care. Stick to health screenings recommended by less biased organizations, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Next, make sure you understand what your doctor is doing for you and why. If they want to run a test, ask how this will help you solve the problem. If they don’t have a good answer, ask if the test is really needed.
Finally, make sure you understand everything in your medical record. By being proactive, you can avoid errors in your records that could impact your future care, health care costs, and other insurance costs. Are there big side effects of being proactive about your health records? You’re more likely to do your part to stay healthy!
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