Met Your Deductible? Care to Consider Before 2018 is Out

Most of us ring in a new year hoping that we won’t have to meet the deductible on our healthcare insurance plans. But, life happens and taking care of ourselves is important. If you have already met your healthcare insurance deductible in 2018, now may be the time to consider getting the care that you may have delayed.

“Most offices see an uptick in patient visits at the end of the year,” notes Blake Staub, M.D., a spine surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano. “We generally find that once a patient or family has met their insurance deductible, they are ‘free’ to pursue care, treatments or surgeries that they have been putting off.”

A deductible is the amount you pay for covered healthcare services before your insurance plan starts to pay. After meeting your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. The amount of deductible can vary from plan to plan, so it’s important to check your limits and learn what you have paid toward the deductible to see whether you have met it, or are close to meeting it, for 2018. Most health insurances have deductibles that reset on January 1. If you have a flexible spending account, or FSA, you also may have some “use-it-or-lose-it” benefits to consider using.

Here are a few services that many patients choose to pursue before the end of the year:

  • Screenings and other diagnostic testing, including mammograms, colonoscopies cervical cancer screenings, bone density scans and annual skin checks. [ I believe that screening mammograms and colonoscopies are covered now by most insurance at 100 percent, outside of any deductible or co-payment. ]
  • Vaccinations ― including Tdap, Zostavax, Pneumovax, Influenza, and Hep A and B ― which you should speak with your doctor about keeping up to date.
  • Surgeries, such as joint replacements, slipped discs, repairs for meniscus or frozen shoulder, or even surgical procedures on your feet that you may have discussed previously with your physician.
  • Treatment or therapy for back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, and other pain you may have been suffering from this year.
  • Procedures, such as heart catheterizations or spinal injections.
  • Injections for treatment of conditions like osteoporosis, or even contraception.
  • Prescription medication refills, which sometimes require a visit to your doctor’s office, in addition to the pharmacy.

Considering some additional care before the end of the year?  Book your appointment now, and speak to your doctor about preventive care to keep you at your best into next year and beyond.

“Although it may be more palatable for the patient to wait until later in the year to seek care, it is important that patients and care providers have an ongoing dialog regarding the patient’s health,”  Staub says. “With rising health care costs all around us, it is important to keep up with the routine screenings, treatments and recommendations of your health care provider.”

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