Checking in with Nurse Michelle Katz

As some of you may have gathered, I’m a bit of a fan of Michelle Katz, a patient advocate who runs her own blog at Healthcare for Less. She provides lot of very helpful information for uninsured patients or anybody else who finds themselves as a self-pay patient , such as those with high deductibles or who just need a treatment their ‘comprehensive’ health insurance doesn’t cover.

I wanted to share two items she’s had in recent days that can help save money for self-pay patients.

First – used medical supplies!

Save Tons On Your Hospital Bills By Purchasing Second Hand

Tip #66 from “101 Health Insurance Tips:” Hospitals will charge a significant markup on equipment like crutches or braces, so you’re almost always better off buying them on your own. There are plenty of organizations who might even give these items away or rent them at a discounted price such as:  centers, rotary clubs, key clubs, churches, etc.  So before you wobble out of the hospital with a pair of crutches, be sure to call around and find out who has an extra pair that they can dust off and give to you, or contact a local “donation facility” and see if you qualify for a free or discounted pair.  In addition, be sure there is a note put in your medical chart that these items were brought in from home, so you will not be charged for them at a later date.  Some of these organizations can be found here:

Second, while I tend to be in the camp that thinks a great deal of so-called ‘preventive’ medicine is overblown, there is value to some of it. In the case of aspirin, maybe $25,000 worth of value:

A Baby Aspirin Can Save You $25,000

Yes, that little chewable pill may save you $25,000 later, the average cost of treating a heart attack….this brings me to tip #84 from “101 Health Insurance Tips”: A baby aspirin (81mg) a day, keeps the cardiologist at bay.

Yes, you have probably heard that if you are a man over the age of 40 or a woman past menopause, a smoker, have high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease, you can lower your risk of a heart attack by taking an aspirin every day or every other day.

In addition, your doctor may recommend an aspirin a day IF you have had/have one of the following:

  1. You already had a heart attack or stroke
  2. You recently had a stent placed in a coronary artery, have had coronary bypass surgery, or you have chest pain due to coronary artery disease (angina)
  3. You are at high risk of having a heart attack
  4. You are a man with diabetes older than 50, or a woman with diabetes older than 60

…It may be beneficial for you to keep an aspirin handy at all times if you have coronary artery disease (CAD).  The reason being is studies have shown that aspirin works within 15 minutes to prevent the formation of blood clots in people with CAD.  In the case of a heart attack/chest pain, (be sure your doctor helps you distinguish this from heart burn), one adult-strength aspirin containing 325 milligrams, (preferably in a chewable form since it is absorbed in the blood stream faster), may buy you some extra time when calling 9-1-1.  From my experience, in some cities, 9-1-1 does not always respond immediately.  Seconds mean everything when someone if suffering from a heart attack/stroke!

Keeping healthy is one key strategy for saving money as a self-pay patient, and if a simple, inexpensive aspirin daily or every other day can save you tens of thousand of dollars (not to mention your life), it should definitely be part of the self-pay patient’s plan!

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