Author Topic: Frugal Medical Advice?  (Read 4693 times)

Beriberi

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Frugal Medical Advice?
« on: June 08, 2016, 12:37:43 PM »
It seems most of the people on these forums are fairly low utilizers of health care services, and are probably poorly served by most health care websites that end every topic with, "please discuss this with your primary care provider."

I'm wondering where people get rationale medical advice, that is cost-conscious? Books? Blogs?

(Full disclosure: I'm considering writing a blog that might address some common questions - does this need stitches? home cough and cold remedies?  I have done some searching and it seems to be an unfilled niche, but maybe I have missed something.)

Thanks!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2016, 12:38:59 PM »
I ask close relatives that are doctors. This is not a useful path for most people.

LM123

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2016, 12:58:01 PM »
Before entering a medical school, I frequently used the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic websites. They are easy to navigate and evidenced based from a trusted source. When I worked as a dietitian these were the websites I directed my patients to when they had general questions. In my honest opinion, I wouldn't trust a blog or recommend one to patients. (although I'm sure your blog would be awesome!) It is so very difficult to determine people's qualifications and motivations online. Perhaps if there was some way to make sure your qualifications were verifiable? I'm also curious if this would open you up to liability. There has to be some reason most physician bloggers state "this should not be taken as medical advice, please consult your physician blah blah blah". I wish you the best of luck with this idea! It does sound interesting and useful.

catccc

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2016, 01:23:11 PM »
Both my primary care provider and my kids' primary care provider will allow you to talk to nurses over the phone.  We started using this when the kids would have issues and we weren't sure if a visit was warranted or not.  Or even if we should head to the ER. (like after a fall when a kid seems fine, but you are just nervous and aren't sure the best course of action, if any...)

Lots of family practice offices that are affiliated with a larger hospital or network offer such triage services. 

Your blog idea basically sounds like the internet - this information is everywhere.  I'd trust web MD or the Mayo site long before a random blogger, personally.  And I'd be worried about liability issues, like another poster just mentioned.

Beriberi

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2016, 01:40:53 PM »
Both my primary care provider and my kids' primary care provider will allow you to talk to nurses over the phone.  We started using this when the kids would have issues and we weren't sure if a visit was warranted or not.  Or even if we should head to the ER. (like after a fall when a kid seems fine, but you are just nervous and aren't sure the best course of action, if any...)

Lots of family practice offices that are affiliated with a larger hospital or network offer such triage services. 

This is the kind of advice I am talking about - I think it is really important to choose a practice that offers access to after-hours nurses, and when appropriate, physicians. Also, a practice which always has same-day "sick" appointments available. These are things that can save you a lot of money (avoiding inappropriate urgent care/emergency department visits).  I don't see these things talked about from a frugal perspective very often.

I do sincerely appreciate the feedback.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2016, 01:44:23 PM »
My insurance is through Kaiser, and they have advice nurses and an option that allows a video chat with a doctor at no cost. I have found both of those really helpful in determining whether it's worth the co-pay to go in and see someone in person.

Beriberi

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2016, 01:45:04 PM »
Before entering a medical school, I frequently used the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic websites. They are easy to navigate and evidenced based from a trusted source. When I worked as a dietitian these were the websites I directed my patients to when they had general questions. In my honest opinion, I wouldn't trust a blog or recommend one to patients. (although I'm sure your blog would be awesome!) It is so very difficult to determine people's qualifications and motivations online. Perhaps if there was some way to make sure your qualifications were verifiable? I'm also curious if this would open you up to liability. There has to be some reason most physician bloggers state "this should not be taken as medical advice, please consult your physician blah blah blah". I wish you the best of luck with this idea! It does sound interesting and useful.

I agree - "person who has their very own blog" is not a very special qualification!

I do wonder about the liability, but haven't found many answers to that.  It seems people get into trouble when they dispense advice to specific patients that they are not licensed to do (a guy who was running a diabetes diet blog and taking questions, for example).  I am licensed to practice medicine. 

Also, I wouldn't want to write an encyclopedic blog - WebMD has done that already. More along the lines of what I posted above, also concrete advice on saving money on medication, home care for common complaints. It would be more of a preventative care blog - do these things now, so you don't end up spending money unnecessarily.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 02:17:18 PM »
I ask close relatives that are doctors. This is not a useful path for most people.

Same here - nurses in the family and a couple of close physician friends.

However, I am one of the mustachians who really values a strong healthcare plan. I would rather pay for strong insurance and be well covered when the inevitable hits, than risk it with a cheapo plan. I can see why many without children do make use of the catastrophic plans, but with kids I am not comfortable with it. I never have to worry about my coverage, or think twice about whether or not I should make a trip to the ER or the pediatrician's out of cost concerns. I would much rather overpay for great coverage than delay necessary care because I'm concerned about the money. Thankfully, we are in a position to make such a decision- many families are not.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2016, 02:20:23 PM »
Did I just see "frugal" and "medical" in the same sentence?

mskyle

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2016, 02:25:23 PM »
MedlinePlus is a good aggregator of high-quality information from other sources. I used to be a health sciences librarian and I recommended it to people a lot. A lot of the links go back to the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic websites, or to government agencies, or stuff like the American Academy of Pediatrics (or your specialty of choice).

Given how much I see my providers consulting it I sometimes think that an UpToDate subscription might be a good substitute for a primary care physician! But that's actually still kind of expensive and it doesn't have prescribing privileges or do bloodwork or imaging or anything, so...

LM123

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2016, 12:23:17 PM »
Before entering a medical school, I frequently used the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic websites. They are easy to navigate and evidenced based from a trusted source. When I worked as a dietitian these were the websites I directed my patients to when they had general questions. In my honest opinion, I wouldn't trust a blog or recommend one to patients. (although I'm sure your blog would be awesome!) It is so very difficult to determine people's qualifications and motivations online. Perhaps if there was some way to make sure your qualifications were verifiable? I'm also curious if this would open you up to liability. There has to be some reason most physician bloggers state "this should not be taken as medical advice, please consult your physician blah blah blah". I wish you the best of luck with this idea! It does sound interesting and useful.

I agree - "person who has their very own blog" is not a very special qualification!

I do wonder about the liability, but haven't found many answers to that.  It seems people get into trouble when they dispense advice to specific patients that they are not licensed to do (a guy who was running a diabetes diet blog and taking questions, for example).  I am licensed to practice medicine. 

Also, I wouldn't want to write an encyclopedic blog - WebMD has done that already. More along the lines of what I posted above, also concrete advice on saving money on medication, home care for common complaints. It would be more of a preventative care blog - do these things now, so you don't end up spending money unnecessarily.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Ah! I think I'm starting to understand what you intend to create. My SO has a serious chronic autoimmune disease and I would greatly appreciate a resource that discussed different aspects of insurance plans, selecting health care providers, and how to reduce medication costs, etc. I haven't seen anything like that in my internet surfing. Additionally, I think the general public grossly underestimates the financial cost of chronic diseases that can be prevented by lifestyle changes. It truly is all about prevention. What a great idea for a blog that could genuinely improve the lives of many people! Let me know where I can find it when it comes to fruition.

MrsPete

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2016, 04:42:18 PM »
The best medical advice is to adopt a healthy lifestyle:  Eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise, avoid putting bad things into your body, etc. 

No, it won't take care of every possible problem, but it will reduce your chances of a whole lot of diseases and conditions. 

Choices

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2016, 05:18:50 PM »
WebMD is pretty good, and if you have some medical background then Medscape is also helpful. If you're a physician, then UpToDate is awesome.
But, and this is a big but, it can make people very anxious about things that are no big deal as well as give false reassurance about things that are a really big deal.

Most insurance companies (not just Kaiser) have a nurse hotline that can be very helpful in determining whether something is truly worrysome.

I also agree that prevention is the best medicine, though sometimes bad things happen anyway.

-Emergency Physician

PhysicianOnFIRE

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2016, 06:33:13 PM »
The best medical advice is to adopt a healthy lifestyle:  Eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise, avoid putting bad things into your body, etc. 

No, it won't take care of every possible problem, but it will reduce your chances of a whole lot of diseases and conditions.

+1

The best way to spend less on health care is to stay healthy. Some ailments are the result of chance / bad luck, but most costly medical conditions can be delayed or avoided entirely by making good choices.

My first attending on my first rotation was an internist. He would say "eat right, safe sex, wear your seatbelt." If everyone followed these three instructions, we would save billions.

Christiana

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2016, 11:07:33 AM »
Whenever I have called the nurse, or asked nurse friends, the answer always is "Go in and have it checked out." They take the cautious route because of liability, I guess.

What would really be helpful is a discussion of risks, with odds and other numbers backed up by research, to help the readers make informed decisions. That is something that the big medical sites usually don't have. Also, case studies or even ballpark estimates of medical costs. Expected payoffs for preventative measures. How to navigate the medical system. Natural/home remedies that are effective. How to reduce side effects and shorten recovery time. Whatever it might be helpful for your readers to learn.

Choices

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2016, 01:43:05 PM »
Whenever I have called the nurse, or asked nurse friends, the answer always is "Go in and have it checked out." They take the cautious route because of liability, I guess.

What would really be helpful is a discussion of risks, with odds and other numbers backed up by research, to help the readers make informed decisions. That is something that the big medical sites usually don't have. Also, case studies or even ballpark estimates of medical costs. Expected payoffs for preventative measures. How to navigate the medical system. Natural/home remedies that are effective. How to reduce side effects and shorten recovery time. Whatever it might be helpful for your readers to learn.

You're so right on so many counts. While risks with odds would be great, it depends on age, gender, history, etc. and would be difficult to provide for general advice.

WebMD had good summaries of different conditions and things you can do at home for your symptoms.

Have you checked your insurance company website for cost estimates? Most companies have them on their home page these days and they give a range of costs with your specific insurance policy. It's hard to write an article about them generally because everyone has a different policy with different negotiated rates, copays, and deductibles.

Bajadoc

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Re: Frugal Medical Advice?
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2016, 04:11:03 PM »
The best medical advice is to adopt a healthy lifestyle:  Eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise, avoid putting bad things into your body, etc. 

No, it won't take care of every possible problem, but it will reduce your chances of a whole lot of diseases and conditions.
Obviously people should do this. The people who need medical advice are people with problems. It is worth seeing a doctor, in person, if you feel you have a health problem. Young healthy people can't imagine something going wrong if they just take care of themselves. Health problems are going to happen to every single person (yes even you) sooner or later. Doctor money is almost always money well spent. An experienced doctor is worth paying for.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 04:19:09 PM by Bajadoc »