Shopping Around

I don’t know about you, but dealing with everything to do with healthcare freaks me out. I don’t like making appointments, I don’t like talking with doctors, I don’t like feeling sick, I don’t like going in when I am feeling healthy because the only news you will get is that you are not healthy after all. I really don’t like (and don’t understand) health insurance.

I get especially freaked out about doctors and money because sometimes doctors don’t tell you the test they are doing (or sometimes they do, but they don’t mention to you that it costs more than the GDP of some small countries) and then 6 months later you get an outrageous bill. I already feel nervous and intimidated (and often I feel like I am being rushed along) when I am in the office and I never remember/feel awkward asking about the costs of the procedures. I really don’t understand how healthcare costs work and I generally feel like I am getting scammed by the exact people with whom I am trusting my health and well being.

Needless to say, I am not ready to write a post about making good financial healthcare choices because it is an area of adulthood that I definitely don’t excel at.

It is something that I need to work on. But this week I took a baby step towards getting over that by starting with a doctor and a procedure that I am very comfortable with- a cleaning at the dentist.

Here is what I did:

I am overdue for a cleaning, but I don’t have a dentist in the area. I looked on Yelp to find a highly rated dentist in my area. When I called to make an appointment, I asked (big step for me!) how much a standard new patient cleaning costs. $250! Holy cow! I said thank you and hung up without making an appointment. Not too hard or too embarrassing.
I kept calling around and was quoted prices from $190 to $340 (how is this last dentist even sleeping at night?)
Finally I found a dentist who has 5 stars on yelp who charges $150 for a new patient cleaning. Perfect. I have an appointment next week.

Baby steps. Instead of showing up, having my teeth cleaned and then being shocked at the bill, I did a little research and saved myself a bit of anxiety. I also saved myself (up to) $190.

I think I’ll try this again in the future.

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2 thoughts on “Shopping Around

  1. Reblogged this on Amy's Personal Blog and commented:
    This was an excellent article written. I had comments for it, but the length became too long, and I didn’t want to hijack her blog:

    Last year was my first year with my own health insurance. It’s not been fun.

    I have a few suggestions though:

    1) Read and/or bring your explanation of benefits with you when you go to the dentist. My dentist wouldn’t submit a treatment (the oral cancer test) to my insurance company because, according to them, NOBODY covers that anymore. However, my insurance company covers that test 100%. It took 3 months, and them threatening me with collections, but they finally submitted it to my insurance company… and my insurance company paid it 100%. The dentist I went to also tried to charge me for fluoride even though my insurance covers it 100%.

    2) Before treatment, ask for a treatment plan. A treatment plan is like a quote for routine procedures. For expensive procedures, ask for a predetermination. The medical office submits a quote to the insurance company, which in turn mails you what they will and will not cover.

    3) If you receive an additional bill, don’t just pay it. Look at your explanation of benefits and call your insurance company for clarification. If it’s the doctor office’s error, they will conference call with you as an intermediary to get it fixed.

    4) My insurance company’s website had a search engine for those doctor’s that are in-network. I believe a lot of them have tools that will tell you which treatment is cheapest where.

  2. I just got health insurance through my company and had all the same fears as you. I decided to call my little brother’s dentist and see if they accepted my insurance and now both my boyfriend and I had our first medical care in years! But yea, I totally relate to this entire post.

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