Joint Care to Consider as You Meet Your 2019 Deductible

You’ve put it off, but now that you’ve met your deductible on your health insurance plan you may want to consider getting the joint care you delayed earlier in the year.

Your joint health may not be your main focus when it comes to health and wellness, but it does play an important role in your active lifestyle. Your joints help you move freely throughout the day, so when they aren’t at their peak health your mobility may be reduced. As the end of the deductible year approaches, now is a good time to think about how you can maximize your health plan―and your joint health―before you ring in a new year.

“Many orthopedic surgeons see a rise in patient visits toward the end of the calendar year,” says Venkat Rapuri, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Orthopedic Medicine Specialists, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “Once a patient or family has met their insurance deductible, they tend to be more likely to pursue the joint care, treatments or surgeries that they have been putting off.”

A deductible is the amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance provider will begin paying bills. After meeting your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. The deductible amount can vary from plan to plan. That’s why it’s important to check your limits and find out what you have paid toward the deductible to see whether you have met it, or are close to meeting it, for 2019.

Most health insurance plans have deductibles that reset on January 1. If you have a flexible spending account, or FSA, you also may have some benefits to consider using before you lose them.

According to Dr. Rapuri, joint replacement surgery tops the list of services patients chose to pursue more frequently this time of year. Also of interest are procedures to repair meniscus tears and frozen shoulders, therapy or treatment for knee, hip or other joint pain, and joint injections for osteoporosis and other joint disorders.

“These are often services a patient has discussed or inquired about with their primary doctor or our office previously. They just may not have been ready to make the commitment until their deductible was met,” he says.

Joint replacement is an area that has seen good advancement over the years in terms of surgical technique, and improvements continue to be made in the implant products in use. Dr. Rapuri notes that the length of stay at the hospital for knee and hip replacements has decreased considerably. Some patients are even candidates for single-day joint replacement surgeries, and most hip and knee replacements today last 15 to 20 years.

“Although it may be tempting for a patient to wait until later in the year to seek care, it is important that they keep a dialog going with their care provider regarding their health and any concerns. With health care costs on the rise, it makes sense to keep up with the routine screenings, treatments and recommendations of your health care provider to promote good health. It can become much more costly to treat a condition once it has progressed or gotten serious,” Dr. Rapuri adds.

If you are considering a joint replacement or other joint care yet this year, but are still on the fence, Dr. Rapuri encourages you to keep in mind what’s at stake: relief from pain and the ability to enjoy a more active lifestyle. It’s also worth noting that undergoing joint replacement surgery when you are still active, and have full strength and muscle mass, can promote an easier rehabilitation. When muscle mass is already greatly diminished, the time needed to get back into optimal shape is extended.

Now is a great time to speak with your physician about preventative care to keep you moving into the new year and beyond. To learn more about your joint health, take the hip and knee assessment. To schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon near you, visit TexasHealth.org/Find-A-Physician.

 

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