13 ways to save on medical expenses

Autumn up close

Guest post from Andrea Woroch.

In a landmark decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act, allowing for the continued implementation of the act’s policies through 2014. The effect of this decision continues to unfold and will be a hot topic during November’s elections.

Despite the enormity of this decision, Americans are still struggling to pay for rising medical bills. The typical family spends an average of $19,000 each year on health care. Though that’s far from money down the drain, there are ways to cut your costs in the interim of the health care law coming into full effect.

Health care is a good investment in your future, but you’ll want to consider the following 13 ways to curb medical costs from biting deeply into your budget.

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Setting Up A Charity (But It Is Not What You Think)

Shelter. Are You?

I always wanted to set up a charity.

When my father died in 2003, I wanted to set up a charity for him.  I could not explain the motivation.  I just needed something to remember him by, for his name to remain and stand for something great and good. I looked at the website of my university and found out that for USD$1,000 per semester, I can do that.  But it did not happen – it was probably because I did not have the support or the money I needed or I eventually talked myself out of it.  But I had the strong desire to really do something like that and I often talked about it to my husband.

It is ironic because this year, we were the charity.

Let me explain.

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What to Do, If You Can’t

Cloud Bursting

You are writing.  You want to be shaken to your core, inspired beyond belief, get your thoughts flowing but the words won’t come.  Today is one of those days, you tell yourself, brows furrowed, while trying to figure out what it is you are supposed to do now.  How do you get to the zone?

If the experts are to be believed, there is no zone.  There is only you.  And that you are blocking you.

Or you are blocking your chakra.  And It could be stress, fear, insecurity or worry that are the culprits – negative emotions that are of your own making but ones you think you cannot heal or overcome – at least at that point in time when you are calling upon your inner genius.

But there is something you can do.  You can tap.

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East versus West: Alternative Medicine

Ancient and Mystic

Who will not look at other avenues for cure?

We did.  And he came heavily recommended.   One touch at the pulse, one look at the throat and the extended tongue, and he will know what is wrong with you.  At least that was what we were told.

He was Dr. Tan Ci Shou and he practiced traditional Chinese medicine.  A healer (there are many accounts from friends and strangers that make him sound larger than life).

I have no knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine.  Or what I think I know, I learned from some Chinese movie (or is it from a Korean tele-series?) and novels (Amy Tan?).  But it is fascinating and enchanting and carries more charm than the synthetic (non-natural and expensive) medicine of the west.

And okay, we were something short of desperate – as the pronouncement from our three doctors did not sound very promising.

So one Sunday afternoon, we meandered along the streets of Binondo to Fu Yong Mansion, Ongpin corner Teodora Alonso Street.  It was there that we found him, at a nondescript, decaying building, two fu dogs guarding the entrance.  We were excited to meet our alternative (also scared).

He was wearing white and sat at the corner of a box-shaped room, flanked by a female assistant and 5 other people.  We sat and waited for our turn (hand on the camera – I originally wanted to document the experience but did not because I got shy).  I imagined how this office must look like on a regular day (not on a Sunday at 4pm), when a line would snake out from the room, down the stairs and onto the hot, busy street, everyone sharing their stories (or not), while waiting for their 5 minutes with Dr. Tan.

Because really, that is all it takes.

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Getting Additional Health Insurance

Too Much?

When is enough, enough?

We have medical insurance.  Of course, we have medical insurance. But it was your run-of-the-mill type with a per person limit of up to $2,000 in one year.  A lot of people do not even make a dent in that amount because they never get sick.  Well, for the years that we have had it, we usually use up (if any) only $400 annually – some for check-ups, others for laboratory tests and procedures (blood tests, colonoscopy) and annual medical exams, some for our daughter’s hospitalization (twice these five years) – an amount that is more or less equivalent to what we have paid for it.  But this year was different.  Hubby has about depleted all of it with all of the tests he had to undergo for his heart.

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When Life Gives You Lemons

Why the Fishes Multiplied

For about two months now, hubby and I have been confronted with the question of our mortality – well, hubby’s mortality, to be exact.

It is not easy to imagine this. Hubby does not drink, does not smoke, is an athlete – he lifts weights, plays basketball, soccer, rowing, just ran a marathon.   Healthy and active would be words to describe him.

Or so we thought.

When the doctor pronounced that his heart was weak, it sounded like a bad joke.  But tests after test confirmed that something was wrong.  But why it is happening, no one can explain.

And why him?

We talked to his heart (asked it to heal, asked it for forgiveness, told it we loved it), prayed, went to a Chinese herbalist, followed the doctors’ advise to the letter (no strenuous activity, drink medicine, no-fat diet), I tried to be a really good, dutiful, obedient, loving wife (was it too late?), but hubby’s heart continued to deteriorate and weaken.

Until the ultimatum – he had to have a pacemaker implanted.

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