Financial Planning Series – #5 Medical Cost – Make a Plan Today

Medical cost is # 5 in a family’s budget.  These include Insurance, HSA (Health Savings Account), Doctor co-pays, Prescriptions, Laboratory testing, X-ray, Travel time.

Make a Plan.  One of the biggest mistakes that families can make is to work backwards to meet their medical needs.  We have families who need medical care and we take them to the first care provider that comes to mind without looking at all the options.

Prior to needing medical care, make a plan.  What services are covered in your healthcare plan? Does your healthcare plan offer you services that meet your needs?  Does your healthcare plan have the option to see a doctor via video? What about medical providers? Which gives you the best care? What about supporting agencies (Laboratory, X-ray, etc.)?  What about conveyance? Do you have to take off from work?  Will the children miss school?

Evaluate your Healthcare Plan. One of the first steps in developing your plan is to evaluate your Healthcare plan.  Have you reviewed the coverage and services that your policy offers?  All to often we choose the Healthcare plans based on cost and not what is provided.  Will a cheaper plan meet o needs, or will it cost (copays, non-coverages, out of network), you more throughout the year?
Last year, we had a family member that had to have a costly surgery.  We knew this during open enrollment so we chose a plan that will pay for most of the costs (surgery, laboratory, x-ray, prescriptions).  She had the surgery the first part of the year and our deductible was met. It’s great to only pay a few dollars for medical expenses the remainder of the year.

Does your Healthcare plan offer Telehealth doctor and medical service (Doctor Call – MDlive)?

Originally created to serve patients in remote locations (think patients in remote villages in Alaska), telemedicine has gradually been adopted by a variety of patients who do not necessarily live outside standard hospital coverage areas.  Instead of making the long trek to specific facilities for a routine general checkup, it can be done from the comfort of the patient’s home, saving countless hours. The response time is within the hour, and sometimes minutes.

For example, I used telemedicine earlier this year.  I had a cold that I could not treat with over-the-counter medication.  I logged into my account and within 10 minutes I spoke with a doctor who prescribed the proper medication and sent the prescription to my pharmacy.  All this without having to call the doctor’s office, try to get an appointment time for that day, travel to the appointment, wait in the waiting room with others who need to see the doctor, and then go to the pharmacy and pick up the medication.

There are a variety of payment models to fund telemedicine services. For example, a patient’s employer offers virtual care options as part of health insurance coverage premiums. If not offered in the patient’s employer plan some people may opt to independently use a telemedicine which covers the entire family at a low monthly cost.