10 Things To Use Your Health Insurance For, Now That You’ve Met Your Deductible

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Our offices are packed with folks “getting things done” before the end of the year because they’ve met their deductible and things are “free” now. Here’s what you can think about cramming in before 2019 starts.

 

 

1) Take a shot! Immunizations.

Make sure your vaccines are up to date. That means Tdap, Shingrix, Pneumovax 23, Prevnar 13, flu, hep A and hep B. Tdap—to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis—is done every 10 years. Shingrix to prevent shingles is given in a series of two after the age of 50. Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 to prevent serious infections like pneumonia and meningitis are given after you turn 65. Flu vaccines are yearly.

2) Squish. Mammograms.

Make an appointment and get your mammogram screening done for the year if you are due. It’s a no-brainer. Mammograms are X-ray images of the breast, and they help doctors detect breast cancer.

3) Get in those stirrups. Pap smears.

Doctors screen for cervical cancer with pap smears. For most people, it’s recommended that pap smears are done every 3 to 5 years. If you’re due for one this year but haven’t had it yet, it’s time to get it done!

 

 

4) Bring your rear before the end of the year. Colonoscopies.

Get a colonoscopy if you are due. Colonoscopies should be done every 10 years for people of average risk after the age of 45. This is new. In May 2018, the American Cancer Society changed it’s colonoscopy recommendation based on new evidence that colon cancer rates are rising and studies that showed an improvement in survival if we start screening at age 45. Remember: After lung cancer, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. If you are due for a colonoscopy, get it done.

5) Bumps and rashes. Dermatology visits.

If you have high-risk skin, like a family history of skin cancer or something abnormal you want checked out, go in to see a dermatologist. A once-a-year skin check with a dermatologist saves lives from melanoma skin cancer.

6) I want it done, kinda. Elective orthopedic surgery.

Many patients cram in bunion or hammertoe surgeries, meniscus repairs and frozen shoulder surgeries at the end of the year when they’ve met their deductible and they know their surgery will be fully paid for. If you were considering an elective orthopedic surgery, get it done like the rest of these folks. Ortho surgeons are very busy this time of year.

7) Bad to the bone. DEXA scans.

An osteoporosis screening, known as a bone density scan (DEXA), is a good one to cram in. How often you need this should be discussed with your doctor, but if you are due, get those bones ready for a screening! Osteoporosis is treatable. You CAN lower your risk of hip fractures.

 

 

8) Say what? Have your hearing checked.

I’ve been asked quite a bit for referrals to an audiologist in the past few weeks. These are requests from folks who notice that one ear is not as sharp as the other or who are giving into peer pressure from family members that complain about their hearing, or lack thereof.

9) Oh, my aching [fill in the blank]. Physical therapy (PT).

For much of what ails you, physical therapists are the unsung heroes of medicine. If you need physical therapy for back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, etc., you may be able to get a few sessions done this calendar year. Then in 2019, you will start all over with fresh new limits on PT.

10) Roll up your sleeve. Injections.

If you get injections like Prolia for osteoporosis, Depo-Provera for contraception, testosterone or vitamin B12, and you are billed for a nurse visit with every injection, well then, get them done before 2019.

 

Hurry up!

Dr O.

 

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