Here at 9Health Fair, we often come up with our health-related blog ideas through our own personal health journeys. Like many of you, we too are navigating the confusing, complicated world that is healthcare, be it health insurance, finding out what a procedure is going to cost, or in this case, trying to make sure we’re not overpaying for healthcare – especially when we know the current health problem is a temporary one (hopefully!).
Wake Up Call! I’m Not Serena Williams
I recently tore some of the ligaments around my ankle and chipped the bone. Like with all of us, my injury wasn’t planned. I was playing tennis with my husband. The best tennis I’ve ever played. And now was my time! Serena is off being a new mom. I needed to quickly up my game so I can start my new life as a tennis star while the real star is taking care of her newborn.
I was serving the ball. It was the best serve I ever had. And then, as my arm was following through, down I went, hearing three cracks on the way.
There happened to be a nurse playing on the next court over. She rushed over and helped to calm me down (I was screaming in agony). She kindly recommended I get it looked at. Since I work at 9Health Fair and had just left a 9Health Fair my first thought was to go back to take advantage of the free foot screening I knew was offered there.
I called one of my colleagues (while thrashing around in pain) and being the smart nurse that she is, she insisted I go to the ER or urgent care, not there.
As you can see, like you, I’m a health consumer. And we all know that healthcare is not cheap. As is common, I have a high deductible health insurance plan. Everything is out of pocket until I reach $1500. Then insurance kicks in 80% until I finally reach my out-of-pocket maximum. So even though I’m in agony, my thoughts are all along “How can I take care of myself affordably?”
I know that an Emergency Room visit is way more expensive than Urgent Care. So, we decide to go to the nearest urgent care.
Where You Go Matters
The x-rays showed the bone chip and a gap between my bones big enough for the doctor to assume my torn ligaments. I was given crutches and a boot and instructed to make an appointment asap with an orthopedic specialist.
Now, while insurance will help cover my payments, I also know that I will still have to pay something and that amount of money depends on where I go. Also, some insurance companies will not cover the costs if you don’t have a referral from your doctor. So, here’s what I did with the help of my husband. We looked up all the orthopedic doctors in my network (insurance). In this case, my priority was not finding the most affordable orthopedic. As we started calling around no one could get me in until 4 or 5 days later. I knew I needed to be seen as soon as possible. So, with that, I just found a place that could get me in the earliest. If you find yourself in a similar situation, but not necessarily in a hurry, you can ask for rates and try to find the most affordable place.
Once I found the earliest appointment available, I called my doctor and had her send the referral to the place of my choosing (not just where they told me to go), just in case my insurance was going to be a pain about that.
The Search for Used Medical Equipment Near Me
Once I got to the orthopedic doctor and they confirmed what I learned in urgent care, they offered me what’s called a knee cruiser. Here’s another way my husband and I knew to save money.
I declined the knee cruiser, since I was only going to need it for 3 weeks or so. I didn’t want to pay hospital prices for something brand new that I wasn’t going to use long-term.
However, heck yes, I wanted this thing! If you’ve ever been on crutches, you know they’re no fun. Even though I wasn’t leaning on them they were still rubbing my sides raw.
So, I started calling every place I could think of and searching online for used medical equipment near me. Finally, I found a place called Medical Equipment Loan that had a knee cruiser I could borrow. All they asked was for a donation. (Here’s another similar type of program too.)
Now, I don’t know exactly how much the hospital was going to charge me. I did see one on Amazon for $151. My guess is the hospital was going to charge me more than that. I gave the medical supply charity a $20 donation and plan to give them another $20 when I return it. Basically, though, I’ve saved at least $100 this way. That’s not nothing.
I share this with all of you because I know we all struggle to find affordable healthcare. It becomes an even bigger struggle in an emergency because we feel like we must just do whatever to take care of ourselves right away. But even in a minor emergency, we can be mindful of strategies to save ourselves money. This way, once you’re recovered, you’re not then in shock when the bills start rolling in.
I have yet to see my bills, but I’ll at least feel good knowing that I’ve taken every step to minimize them as much as I can.