Call your insurance company first. Tell them your doctor's office is closed, but there is an urgent care facility available, and will they cover reimbursement and just charge the normal PCP copay fee. You'd be surprised how many policies have a clause to cover this very event, and getting what is basically a prior authorization directly from the insurance company goes a long ways.
I have given (and taken) this advice to many of my patients, and have yet to have one come back and say they got screwed.
That's good to keep in mind if I move. Right now, there aren't any urgent care centers around me, and I'm 1 block from a hospital (and 3 minute drive from a minute clinic).
I think my emergency room copay is only $50, so in events like I had, I'll keep going there.
I am a big fan, however, of minute clinics (more like 40 minute clinics, but whatever). It kills me that Boston won't let them in the city. If you're going to make things like antibiotics prescription medication, then you should at least make it as easy as possible to attain that prescription.
Hah. I had no idea what an 'urgent care center' was, so I had to Google it:
Urgent care centers[bostonglobe.com] run by entrepreneurs and doctors to treat emergencies that are not life threatening, especially during off hours, have been far less common in Massachusetts than in Florida, California, and some other states. That is partly because health insurers here have typically required many patients to get referrals from their primary care doctor, which would be impractical when trying to get treatment on a weekend for a broken ankle or high fever.
This would be funnier if I didn't live where I live.
I shouldn't be surprised really, this is the state where Boston won't even let a Minute Clinic inside its city limits because it might adversely affect the other hospitals (You know, by providing a service to customers they may or may not ever get).
Well, that's why the MA health insurance premiums are so high I suppose.
Urgent care center wait times are 3 hours on average at my Kaiser in California. It used to be 45 minutes on average. (average is based on times that I stop by the hospital which are quite frequently). Copay is usually something like $20-$50. Emergency room is something like $150-$300.
One of the things I was reading about yesterday was the possibility of smokers paying 50% more for individual policies...
all research i have seen points to smoking being the single highest risk factor for morbidity, mortality and expense. european nations dont share this problem as individual who smoke in europe tend smoke much less per day than active smokers in america. they tend to have more smokers who smoke less per person. Americans remain the highest consumers of cigs per person in the world (excluding India as they dont smoke cigs so hard to compare).
The American health care market has transformed tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals into towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives. And in our largest cities, the system offers lavish paychecks even to midlevel hospital managers, like the 14 administrators at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who are paid over $500,000 a year, including six who make over $1 million.
I've had some pretty bad infections that lingered for months. A doctor and an urgent care place told me that if their one weeks treatment of antibiotics didn't work, I'd have to go to a hospital and get an IV. Refusing to believe that, I checked the internet, since I was sure that someone outside the US would never do that. What i found was that often the one weeks antibiotics aren't enough and/or the dose is too low. All I had to do was to go on eBay and buy a months worth of antibiotics and take them until the infection went away, which it did. No expensive hospital bill required!
An irony of this is that one of my cats is really sick right now so he is getting my leftover antibiotics.
To be clear, there was an infection and surgey involved. But there's a larger point here about runaway health care costs in our country...
DEBATE QUESTION: Will Obamacare bring exorbitant health care costs down or will it just be another government handout?
It will be another handout. Federal law mandates charging the insured & uninsured the same--even though the insurance companies pay a "negotiated discount" that is lower than the charge. As you mentioned, that causes health care providers & hospitals to raise prices to maintain solvency in the face of reducing reimbursements via the "negotiated discount." Problem is, an uninsured patient gets the whopping bill that they charge the insurance company (per well meaning federal law). As usual, even well intended government laws create a mess in the long run. The government should stay out of health care.
Had we all paid our own bills, the insurance companies, negotiated discounts, etc. wouldn't have happened, which would have precluded the skyrocketing rates to compensate for declining reimbursements. There also would have been more pro bono care, discounted care, etc. w/o intrusive federal laws prohibiting it. Once we all started paying for one another's health care, it all started down hill. We keep enacting "fixes" that don't go back far enough to the fork in the road where we started down hill. We will never dig out of this mess with the current line of thinking.
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