Health Care–It Pays to Do Your Homework

The last time I had health insurance was in 2013. I did not sign up for Obamacare, nor will I because I will be eligible for Medicare in five months. You may ask why I didn’t sign up for the supposedly great deal that Obamacare offers. Briefly, here’s why: for myself and the Crankee Yankee, it would cost us somewhere north of $600 per month, and with a $12,000.00 yearly deductible. That means that by the time we paid in enough to cover the deductible, it would probably be December 31 of that year, which means we could squeeze in maybe one co-pay.

So how do we manage? Here’s how: we shop around for prices on what we need. Yep, just like you would for a car. When I needed a mammogram, we found an excellent radiology center that offers 3-D mammography for $225. The cost of the same thing at a local hospital is $3,000. We pay in cash every time, and often will get a discount because we do. Also, know that when a health facility knows that you do not have insurance, they legally cannot charge you more than Medicare would. So there is actually a great freedom in not having health insurance.

Paying cash allows you to pick one from column A and two from column B, as it were. You aren’t locked into a plan and all its rules and provisos. Please note that I am not slamming insurance companies per se; but when you don’t have health insurance you have a lot more wiggle room, cash-wise.

Here’s something else we learned. Say you go to your doctor for some minor thing. You shell out $100 + for this visit, and when the doctor is finished, you’re told that you will need to come back for an evaluation or some such. If you ask them (nicely, of course), you can often get your information by phone or letter or email instead of coming in for two minutes and paying another $100 +. Of course, this doesn’t always work; there are times when you need to come in. But always ask.

Another thing: ask questions. If the doctor prescribes a medication for your whatever, ask if there is a generic. If there isn’t, ask for samples. If there are none, ask if you can take half the medication to stretch it out. You lose nothing by asking.

For myself, I have always kept a balance between medical doctors and naturopaths. This is a personal decision, and I do my homework. If I can control my hereditary high triglycerides by eating the right foods and a homeopathic remedy, I do. But I do have bloodwork done on a regular basis to be sure that things are in balance, and if a med is needed, I take it.

The trick of it is to 1) be aware that you have options, 2) ask questions, and 3) do NOT be intimidated. You have a right to shop around if you don’t have coverage.

SPECIAL NOTE: I am by no means advocating that you break the law. I have explained what we have done and the reasons for what we’ve done. My understanding is that there is no real system in place for paying a penalty for not signing up for Obamacare. The only way they can penalize you is if the IRS owes you money; they will then take the penalty out of that money. But if you owe nothing or if you owe taxes, there currently is not a way you can be penalized.