Monthly Archives: January 2015

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The Fast Track (Part 5)

There are a lot of different things you can do to better your health and medical life in 2015. We’ve talked about a few of them so far, and this week we’re bringing our “Fast Track” mini-series to a close with our final piece of advice.

Set goals for yourself.

We cannot stress how much of a difference this makes. Whether your goals are long term or short term, setting goals (and actually working towards them) is one of the simplest ways to make sure that you succeed in becoming a happier, healthier you in 2015.

What many people don’t think about is the fact that many medical issues can be avoided purely by taking simple steps. Those bills you racked up from visits to your doctor about your cholesterol can, in many cases, be avoided altogether by exercising stricter eating habits. That CT you had to get after your fender bender may not have been necessary if you’d made an effort to practice driver safety a little bit more. You might not need that MRI for what turned out to be stress-related migraines if you learned proper relaxation and stress-control techniques.

Although in life some things are unavoidable, especially when related to your health, there are also many things that we can take steps towards preventing. So before we get too far into the new year, we’d like to urge you to take 20 minutes and set some goals for yourself that you believe will help lead to a happier you, a healthier you, and a you that doesn’t make as many trips to the hospital.

They don’t have to be anything crazy. The trick is to start small and work yourself up, so begin with simple steps like:

Dedicate half an hour each day to doing something relaxing.

Incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods into your diet.

Exercise for half an hour at least 3 times a week.

Practice driver-safety.

Small, easy to follow goals like these can have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being, and can help minimize your risk of avoidable medical issues. You may not be able to prevent everything, but if you can save yourself even just one MRI, that’s an extra $500 that you can put towards something else.

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The Fast Track (Part 4)

There are a lot of different things you can do to better your health and medical life in 2015. We’ve talked about a few of them so far, and we’ll continue to focus on several of them throughout the upcoming weeks. We believe that one of the most important ones, though, is the following:

Be prepared for anything.

You’ve heard the story. Johnny’s going over his budget for the new year, and he’s run into a little problem. He usually tries to put $1,000 aside in his medical emergencies fund just in case something goes wrong, but his friends are planning an awesome trip to Bermuda this year and he doesn’t have the additional funds to go.

After weighing the pros and cons (margarita’s on the beach vs. spending the winter in Seattle…), Johnny says “what the heck!” and books the trip. He didn’t end up spending all of his medical emergency fund last year, and he hasn’t been to the hospital in what feels like forever. He’s in the best shape of his life, and he’s young. What are the chances he’ll even need the money?

Fast-forward two months and Johnny’s sitting in the emergency room after one of those tragic, you’ll-laugh-about-this-later accidents. He came home from work, tripped over McFluffles the cat and broke his leg. It’s ok though, he can just cancel his trip, right? Wrong. What Johnny’s friends didn’t tell him is that the trip is non-refundable, so he’s looking at 10 glorious days of “can you even get a swimsuit over that cast?” and “too bad you can’t come in the water with us” and “oh my gosh, I think you have a crutch tan!” And as if that isn’t bad enough, as Johnny sits with his cast in the air watching his friends splash around in the ocean or run down the beach, all he’ll be able to think about is the pile of medical bills he can’t afford to pay anymore that are waiting in his mailbox at home.

We all know someone who’s experienced a situation like this. Heck, that someone might have been us! And while Johnny’s situation may seem funny to the rest of us, it’s important to realize that this scenario is all-too-true for many people, and it’s not one you want to be in. Even if you think it’s going to be a great year for you medically, don’t make the mistake of not being prepared. Put aside that emergency fund, have a plan in place…do whatever you need to do to make sure that you’re prepared for anything that comes your way this year! You’ll thank yourself later.

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The Fast Track (Part 3)

We’ve talked about health insurance and about determining whether or not your doctor/medical center fits your needs, two very important steps to getting your health and medical life on track for the new year. We’ve been putting a lot of focus on how exterior entities (like your health insurance company, your doctor, or your medical center) can help you keep things running smoothly in 2015, but this week we’re shifting the emphasis to discuss things that you can personally do to ensure that you stay healthy this year and avoid as many trips to your doctor or medical center as possible.

There are a lot of different things you can do to better your health and medical life in 2015, and we’ll continue to focus on several of them throughout the upcoming weeks. We believe that one of the most important ones, though, is the following:

Do your research.

Unless you have a pre-existing injury or illness that requires you to frequently have certain procedures done (like a yearly MRI or something like that), then most of you probably don’t enter the new year thinking “I should really get to know the medical centers in my area and the different procedures offered in case something goes wrong this year”. It’s a fact that most people enter the new year optimistic about most things, including their health. No one envisions a year spent with trips to the hospital, hours in an MRI machine, or weeks of physical therapy. And why should they?

Later this month we’ll talk about the importance of being prepared for anything. Doing your research is one of the biggest steps you can take towards helping yourself be prepared. We know you don’t assume that you’ll need to know what an MRI machine is, how much it costs, and what facilities even offer them in your area, but the majority of the time the people that we get in our center are the ones who never thought they’d be there.

Even if you don’t anticipate ever needing to undergo a medical procedure, it’s important to have at least some basic knowledge about the various procedures available and what their functions are. At this point in our lives, we should all know the difference between a CT scan and an MRI. We should all know that ultrasounds aren’t just for pregnant women. We should all know how an x-ray machine works and that medical procedures are actually pretty expensive. We should know what our insurance covers and what we’ll have to pay out of pocket. We should know how to find information about prices and quality of care online. We should know where we’d go for a procedure in the rare case that we end up needing one.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, if you don’t know where you would go for a CT or MRI and you’re not sure how much they even cost, then block out some time this weekend to do your research. It’s important to have a plan in place so you don’t get caught off-guard when an unexpected medical issue hits you.

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The Fast Track (Part 2)

Last week we talked about the importance of prioritizing your needs and evaluating whether your doctor (or medical center) is the right fit for you. There are some things you can sacrifice in life, but this is an area we believe you should never settle on. This week we’ll touch on another important question to ask yourself this year, one that’s linked closely to our first one.

Do you have health insurance?

On the off-chance that 2015 has a few more downs than ups when it comes to your family’s health, it’s important to have thought about your health insurance. Do you need it? Do you have it? If you do have it, what are the specifics? Does your health insurance work for the needs of your family, or would you be better served with a different plan? If you don’t have it and you think you might need it, how can you go about getting it? If you don’t need it and you don’t want it, how can you make sure that you’re minimizing the amount you pay out-of-pocket for any medical procedures you might need?

It’s important to understand your health insurance situation, so we really encourage our patients to understand the type of plan that they have and whether or not it’s meeting their needs. It’s not a bad idea to shop around and compare your options, in fact—we encourage that! Find what works for you and let it work.

If you’re not insured, make sure to utilize whatever resources you have when it comes to minimizing your medical bills. There are a lot of great websites out there that will help you find the lowest prices for any medical procedures you might need (Save On Medical is one that we’ve had great experiences with, so save yourself some money and take advantage of them.

Whether you’re insured or not, understanding your plan (or lack thereof) is the first step to getting your health and medical life in order. It’s the foundation for how you deal with any medical surprises 2015 has in store for your family, both good and bad.