New Year, New You ... NEW DEDUCTIBLE
5 Timing Tips to Plan for Today's High Deductible Environment
Planning your health needs around a revolving yearly deductible can feel like trying to find a black cat in a dark room, when there actually is no black cat. The human body wasn't designed with an internal connection to our bank accounts and sometimes it shows!
We often find ourselves waiting for some expensive health need we absolutely can't avoid and then trying to binge on the healthcare buffet until the door closes on December 31. Saving funds in an HSA and budgeting a reasonable amount of money each year for your health needs make for a couple of great ideas if you're fortunate enough to do it… but saving for healthcare is not what this article is about. Today we would like to arm you with 5 timing tips so you can be more prepared as you try to make the best decisions for yourself in today's high deductible environment.
- Schedule elective screenings January-March. If you are due for a screening mammogram, make a plan to get it done during the first 3 months of the New Year. Most places have light schedules during this time, so you could pretty much have your pick of a date and time. Also, in the event of an abnormal finding, you have all year on an existing deductible to get things sorted out.
I had an abnormal mammogram in December. The findings did not turn out to be anything concerning, but the follow up ultrasound and repeat mammogram had to be scheduled after January 1… against a new deductible. I am completely over the moon with the news of a clean bill of health, but from a money standpoint I could've saved quite a bit of money over the course of the experience if I had scheduled my mammogram earlier in the year.
- Don't avoid elective screenings. We can guarantee you that colon cancer not caught early will cost you more than a screening colonoscopy...and we're not just talking about your money. Colon cancer is one of the ONLY cancers that can be prevented through screening, yet remains the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Take a stand this year for your health and your deductible and schedule your screening colonoscopy during March in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month!
- Start the process early if you hope to get something done with your varicose veins this year! Fall and winter (after "short's season") is a super popular time for patients to schedule their varicose vein procedures from a convenience and comfort standpoint. It can take up to 6 months for some insurance companies to approve these procedures.
- If you haven't met your deductible by October or November and you don't need to access the "healthcare buffet," consider waiting until January to schedule ELECTIVE procedures. DO NOT delay urgent or necessary health needs, but if a doctor has said you do need to consider doing something eventually "when it's a good time for you," make sure you think through the financial impact of the date you choose.
- On the other hand, if you have met your deductible don't wait until the end of the year to schedule the additional procedure(s) you want to get in! I could list a hundred examples of unexpected delays to a planned surgery and here are a few:
- We do some routine pre-op lab work or EKG and something comes back abnormal. Odds are it's going to work out just like my mammogram story above, but it can sure delay your procedure.
- You get the flu. Your surgeon gets the flu. You acquire some weird rash that hangs around for a couple of weeks and then disappears as quickly as it showed up…
- Something comes up and you can't get off work.
- You have a family emergency.
I know your healthcare needs are as unique and individualized as you yourself and I sure hope these quick tips help you along on your health journey this year!