How to choose a dentist that’s right for you

how to choose a dentistThe best tip? Take your time and ask lots of questions

I’ve been exchanging emails this week with a friend who is in the market for a new dentist.

Like me, she expects good value for her money. She doesn’t want to feel like a cash cow and have unnecessary x-rays, procedures of questionable benefit, or expensive cosmetic dentistry.

She wants a dental office that’s clean and well managed, and a dentist she can feel comfortable talking to about costs. Someone who will answer her questions clearly and then let her decide what is best for her health and her … Continue reading

Symjepi – A cheaper alternative to EpiPens. Yay.

symjepiJust last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new epinephrine auto-injector, Symjepi.

I don’t much like the name, but if it’s cheaper…!

I’ve posted several times about the skyrocketing cost of EpiPens—over 500% in the last 10 years.

Anyone who, like me, has been shocked at the pharmacy to discover how much a two-pack of EpiPens costs will be hoping Symjepi will be more affordable.

It won’t be available on the market until later this year, so I don’t know yet how much it will cost. But Adamis Pharmceuticals, the company that makes Symjepi, … Continue reading

3 tips to prevent surprise medical bills

surprise medical billsMy guest post today is from Matthew Bahr, a healthcare finance specialist.

I’ve posted about surprise medical bills before. Sadly, they are becoming more common as healthcare costs continue to rise and provider networks shrink.

Consumer Reports estimates about one third of patients with health insurance receive these unexpectedly high medical bills.

Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your tips and expertise with my readers! FN

Although we know healthcare costs a lot of money, it still stings when we see that bill.

You might think because you’re insured, your insurance will cover most or many of the costs. But … Continue reading

Save money on seasonal allergy medications

seasonal allergy medicationsAnother post related to seasonal allergies, because 2017 is apparently going to be a nasty spring for allergy sufferers! Like me.  😥

As I said in my last post, I prefer to use a neti pot over taking medication (and it works great for me!), but I know a neti pot won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Over-the-counter allergy medications can be expensive, though, even the generics. Know what you need before you buy. Then shop for the best price. I always recommend buying the store brand.

Here is some information about the various types of drugs marketed to … Continue reading

Neti pot for spring allergies

spring allerigesSeattle has had an unseasonably cold and wet spring (even for us!), but that hasn’t stopped my seasonal allergies from arriving on cue.

Time to rinse off my neti pot.

When the pollen counts are high, I use my neti pot every day and it really, really helps.

I prefer using a neti pot rather than antihistamines to treat spring allergies for a couple of reasons.

One, it’s inexpensive. Over-the-counter allergy meds are anything but! Even the generics are pricey.

Two, there are no side effects. I don’t like how antihistamines or decongestants make me feel, and I definitely don’t … Continue reading

The Seven Year Rule

Newer drugs are not necessarily better drugs

A few days ago at the gym, I was leafing through an issue of Health magazine.

What caught my eye was not the article about preventing stress injuries, or the recipe for a zingy, low-fat curry, but rather the pages devoted to ads for prescription drugs. Drugs to treat psoriasis, hepatitis C, dry eyes, depression, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and overactive bladder, to name but a few.

Each ad took three pages. After doing a little mental math, I discovered the ads for these new prescription drugs made up more than 30% of the … Continue reading

Soluble fiber and bad cholesterol

insoluble fiberCholesterol and diet

A few months ago I posted about my husband’s dilemma with his cholesterol, specifically his low-density (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol level.

His physician advised a statin, but my husband is understandably reluctant to start taking a daily pill for the next 30+ years.

Because he has no other heart disease risk factors, such as being overweight, a smoker, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease, he and his physician made a plan to re-check his cholesterol level in 6 months.

A date which is rapidly approaching.

He’s exercising more and being more careful … Continue reading

Choosing an antifungal cream

antifungal creamOne cream to treat them all

Over the weekend, I discovered I had a minor case of athlete’s foot. I’m no athlete, but note to self: wear flip-flops when taking a shower at the gym!

I couldn’t find a tube of antifungal cream in my medicine cabinet—it’s been years since anyone in my family has needed it—so I went out to buy one.

A large number of options confronted me. As always, I thought to myself, “How do ordinary consumers decide which of these fifty tubes of antifungal creams they need?”

Most manufacturers market the creams (or ointments, powders or … Continue reading

Whitening toothpaste abrasiveness

whitening toothpaste abrasivenessThe allure of whiter teeth

I’ve never whitened my teeth, and usually I’m happy with that. But sometimes I get the niggling idea that I would look younger and more sparkling if only my teeth were whiter. My life would be so much better!

Not true, of course, but we all have those unhelpful thoughts now and then, don’t we?

Having your teeth whitened professionally, by a dentist, is the safest way to go and offers the best result. However, it can be expensive.

There are many over-the-counter teeth bleaching sets available for a fraction of the cost—although still pricey, … Continue reading

Don’t presume your provider’s office knows best

This guest post is from a good friend of mine. She’s not in the healthcare industry, but she is one of the most savvy healthcare consumers I know. When she was telling me about some of her recent dealings with providers and insurance, I immediately asked her to write up her experiences to share with my readers! 

I don’t willingly part with my money, especially when I see a healthcare provider.

I question unnecessary tests, and I don’t want the office staff to be cavalier about spending my money. I expect the office to be familiar with my insurance plan, … Continue reading

Stay healthy this holiday season

And save money, too

With both Thanksgiving and Black Friday over and done, the holiday season is in full swing!

But so is the cold-and-flu season :/

Want to stay healthy and save some money? Here are some of my favorite cold-prevention, money-saving posts.

Continue reading

Choosing Wisely – Use less healthcare

My goal for 2017? Use as little healthcare as possible

How will healthcare change under a new president and political party?

That’s a question I can’t answer. As I wrote in my last post, both candidates had multiple-point plans to tweak/improve/repeal/replace the Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA or Obamacare.

But I don’t know what will change or when.

What I know for sure is that for 2017 my premiums will be 20% more expensive, my co-insurance and co-pays will be higher, and my current primary care doctor will no longer be in-network.

I can and will shop around … Continue reading

“Bridge Over Diagnosis”

I’m going with an overdiagnosis theme this week.

Here’s the latest healthcare parody video from pharmacy professor James McCormack, as he continues his much-appreciated effort to raise awareness of overscreening, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment in this country.

As usual, this video is full of supporting statistics and excerpts from leading healthcare journals, so take time to pause the video and really understand the information being shared.

As I said in a previous post, overdiagnosis and the resulting unnecessary treatments cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

Equally bad, if not worse, I think, is … Continue reading

An EpiShell for your EpiPen

The EpiShell will protect your investment

I recently saw a news story about a local family that came up with a brilliant invention—the EpiShell.

What is the EpiShell? It’s a small insulated tube that provides climate control for your EpiPens.

epishell

Why is this a great idea? Like most medications, epinephrine is best kept at room temperature. Temperature extremes speed up deterioration of the product.

Anyone who needs an EpiPen is counseled to carry it with them at all times. If a child has a life-threatening allergy, that means having multiple EpiPens for school, daycare, a backpack, the family car, … Continue reading

Do you know your drug formulary?

drug formularyThe shrinking drug formulary

Insurance companies have several ways to cut their costs.

We are all familiar with higher premiums, higher co-pays, increased deductibles, and narrower provider networks. These will all be apparent when we look at our policies for 2017.

A lesser-known strategy is to remove high-cost drugs from the drug formulary—the list of medications that insurance will cover.

Insurance companies typically work with a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, which acts as the middleman to negotiate drug prices with drugmakers.

Exploding drug costs

The Affordable Care Act made it mandatory that health insurance plans offer prescription drug … Continue reading