Ask HealthCue

HealthCue co-founders, Traci Richards and Stephen Schuster, answer your health insurance questions.

Dear HealthCue:   I read your previous columns and have begun calculating my health expenses.   I would like to double check my estimates against other formulas.  Are there other resources on the internet that would allow me to do this? 

-Katie in Denver

Dear Katie:  There are a number of web sites that assist you in calculating your health expenses.  Go to www.planforyourhealth.com or www.familyhealthbudget.com.  These websites have some information on medical expense calculation in conjunction with services that are being offered on the net.  These two are sponsored by major health insurers and are reliable.

 

Dear HealthCue:  I was told that I could find out what physicians charge for services.  This would be helpful to me when calculating my medical expenses each year.  How do I find out this information?

-David in Kansas City

Dear David:   There is no general information currently available to find out what physicians charge.  However, if you live in certain geographic areas, some of the major insurers are making this information available to their insured subscribers.  For instance, in you hometown of Kansas City, Aetna will begin posting physician rates it pays to area doctors on its web site.  Call your health insurer to see if this information is available to consumers yet.  We will continue to monitor this situation and pass on the information to you as it becomes available.

 

Dear Cue:

I have diabetes and high blood pressure and often need advice from my physician. Each time I need advice, I am forced to make an appointment and go to the doctor’s office. Most of the time his advice is routine, or I need some adjustment to my medications. Is there a way for me to avoid making the appointment and getting advice online or over the phone?

- Dorian in Texas

Dear Dorian:Many doctors will now “see you” online through the Internet. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, web sites are now available that allow a doctor to take a history, and decide if he can treat you without a visit. Doctors who use this software charge a fee of approximately $30 to process your request for advice. Ask your doctor about adopting this process. Remember—most health insurance does not cover online “virtual visits,” so you will be paying for this service out of pocket. For an example of an online service, see www.relayhealth.com.

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