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Dear HCCUA Members:

Many Americans today are struggling to pay their medical bills. One of the main reasons is that family premiums have increased 97% over the past decade. Instead of turning down healthcare you need when you are ill or a procedure you think you cannot afford, learn to take charge of your health care costs.

It is very common for people to overpay for services due to lack of knowledge in healthcare costs. In many circumstances you can find the same exam or procedure in a different facility for a fraction of the cost. You simply need to do a little research prior to getting anything done and ask lots of questions.

Most people are embarrassed to express their financial situations, but you should always be upfront with your doctor(s) on concerns about price and see how they can help you save money. Prior to doing anything, you should understand the cost of all exams and procedures, make sure they are absolutely necessary and see if there is a less expensive alternative or generic version of any medication you have been prescribed.

It is wise to check with your insurance carrier to make sure you understand your plan. For instance, knowing your deductible, co-pays (if any), and what you will be responsible for paying. More importantly, you need to confirm that the office or doctor is in your insurance provider’s network. Going out-of-network will increase your medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs.

As a HCCUA member you are entitled to use a Health Advocate under your Health Advocacy Services Benefit by calling Member Services at 1-866-227-5400 at no additional cost to you. Your Advocate can help you with administrative services, health coaching, information and service support; along with healthcare coordination, claims, and billing assistance.

Yet another benefit you have as an HCCUA member is your TeleHealth Services provided by Interactive MD. Through this service you have the most advanced round the clock healthcare delivery system allowing you to consult with a doctor live from the comfort of your own home or office by secure video, phone or email. This service can save you money and time. A consult in some cases may be less than a doctor visit copay. This service is not to replace your Primary Care Physician, but there for you when they are unavailable, after regular business hours or on the weekends, if you are travelling and need medical assistance.

Patients often have multiple doctors and specialists they see whom may prescribe numerous medications. Unfortunately, this can lead to complications, duplications and medications that are added solely to treat the side effects of the other medications. The best way to avoid this is by doing the “brown bag review”. Bring all the medications you currently take, prescriptions as well as over the counter or natural remedies, into the pharmacy and have a pharmacist go over them. They may be able to recommend a generic or alternative medication at a lesser cost to you and possibly eliminate certain medications or remedies you do not need to take.

In the HCCUA e-Newsletter this month you will find a must read article based on "Carbapenem- Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)" a powerful bacteria with a resistance to some of the strongest antibiotics.

Wishing you a happy and healthy life!

Kristine Eckardt, Director of Member Communications,

Affordable Health Insurance - iCan