Sleep Better Knowing How to Save Money on Specialty Health Care

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This pillow fight was not exactly fun, certainly not like the kind siblings have regularly. Here we were on a family cruise, trying to squeeze in a few hours of sleep after another day of Caribbean fun.

Things were cramped. (I’ve always wondered why they call them ‘staterooms,’ because they aren’t stately and if compared to an actual state, it would have to be Rhode Island. I mean, the room was teeny, even for the Kimbrough family. When we start bumping heads on cabinets, beds and furniture, it’s got to be small!) Such close proximity made it easy for our youngest, McKenzie, to nail me with her pillow from her bed. She has good aim and great velocity, so the only thing that saved me was she eventually ran out of pillows.

Similar scenes played out on future travels, and at home where I became concerned Michele had actually calculated what she could do with those life insurance proceeds if the pillows were held down a bit longer and more forcefully. I still am not certain I believe her line, ‘Honey, I am concerned you quit breathing several times during the night.’ Well, of course I quit breathing, because that’s what you do when a pillow is stuffed over your face, an elbow is tactfully placed between your nostrils and mouth, or a knee punctuates your rib cage.

Okay, you get the picture. I snore. And I disclose to the world that my family now rests wonderfully well even when vacationing with me. The sleep apnea diagnosis – the wife was right – has come, and with it, that lovely sleeping contraption. I remain surprised not to have read the story of the home invasion stopped in its tracks when the intruder comes face-to-face with a victim sporting his CPAP machine mask and hose. I wonder whether I might be more successful blowing the guy off his feet with the oxygen hose than with a nearby firearm. (If you cannot picture this because you don’t wear such a toy at night, do an Internet search and see what your CPAP buddies look like at 2 a.m.)

But let us get beyond this silliness. Through the above-mentioned ordeal, I received a valuable reminder about health care. A doctor’s visit resulted in scheduling a sleep test. And frugal as I am, I did what most people with health insurance do not do: I called the facility where the testing was scheduled and asked what it would cost. Even my co-insurance portion was going to be substantial, so I called another facility in town and asked what it would cost there. It was several hundred dollars less. Armed with that information, I called the physician’s office to confirm that test results from either facility would be sufficient.

Now note that both facilities were in-network facilities under my health plan, but because of a difference in the type of facility, the charges were markedly different. So I asked the physician to switch his orders. The end result: I saved several hundred dollars out of my pocket with a lesser co-insurance, my insurer paid out fewer dollars on my behalf, and I now sleep with a hose on my nose. All because I asked the question, how much will this cost and is there an alternative?

Here’s the tip for us all, including Farm Bureau members covered by TRH Health Plans. Ask questions and shop, even when using in-network providers. (By the way, TRH members do a great job of using in-network providers, because more than 98 percent of all our physician claims, outpatient claims and inpatient claims are with network providers.)

And in exchange for me passing along this money-saving tip to you, I expect in return no jokes about those early-morning lines across my face, thank you. And you can hold the pillow-fire, too, McKenzie.

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