Author Topic: How to deal with a spouse who is a hypochondriac--and the associated expenses.  (Read 10492 times)

Jags4186

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Hi All,

My spouse is a bit of a hypochondriac.  She also sees a therapist for some anxiety issues.

I love her and only want to support her.  But the facts are as follows:

We pay $125/wk for her to see a therapist for 50 minutes.  She puts the max in her HSA and pays for it out of that, I give her $62.50/wk to pay for the difference and she makes up the rest OOP.  This of course leaves no HSA money for the following:

She constantly is going to the doctor to get this or that checked out.  $70 here.  $100 there.  Always a "specialist" is required.  And yesterday a bill came from a "test" she had done.  $3800, of which we will be out of pocket $1200.  I was
internally losing my shit on this as it was completely unnecessary exam, IMO.   Of course she needs to go back for a follow up in 6 months...which will be another $150.

I am a once a year physical type of guy.  I get it for free.  If I feel under the weather I take some Robotussin.  When we were just dating...I always just kind of figured "hey she wants to throw money away that's her prerogative".  Now that we are hitched, I am going insane spending $1000s of dollars on medical expenses for really...unimportant things.  She is a healthy 30 year old woman.

Do any of you have a situation like this?  How do you cope?

Urchina

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Not a psychologist here, but your wife's anxiety is probably the root issue. If she can get that dealt with, it'll probably help a lot. 

I had a period of pretty intense anxiety in colkege, which manifested as nightmares that interfered with my sleep.  A counselor at the student health center taught me some cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques that made my life immediately better and that I still use regularly. They might be useful for you.

Finally,  a really great self-care regimen including exercise,  a clean diet, enough sleep and a contemplative practice like meditation might help a lot, if that's not something you and your wife do already. 

Anxiety disorder is tough to live with and tough to understand if you're not the one who has it.  Good luck to you both!

justajane

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Just wondering - what was the unnecessary exam? At least you recognize that this is your opinion.

Could she drop the therapy to every other week? But this might be at cross-purposes if the anxiety really is causing the doctor's visits. Without more information, it would be hard to know this for sure.

This is a bit of sensitive issue for me, because I go to the doctor far more than my husband and would hate it if he painted me in this light. It comes across slightly as the hysterical wife stereotype.

Jags4186

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Just wondering - what was the unnecessary exam? At least you recognize that this is your opinion.

Could she drop the therapy to every other week? But this might be at cross-purposes if the anxiety really is causing the doctor's visits. Without more information, it would be hard to know this for sure.

This is a bit of sensitive issue for me, because I go to the doctor far more than my husband and would hate it if he painted me in this light. It comes across slightly as the hysterical wife stereotype.

My OP might have been a little sensationalist...I was really pissed at the $1200 bill.

At her annual physical the doctor said she had a super minute amount of blood in her urine and that if she wanted she could get it checked out by a urologist, but likely there's nothing wrong.  We went to the urologist ($150) and he said it's a super small amount, not a big deal, did an x-ray ($150) of her bladder and said he didn't see anything wrong.  Then he said well I could put a camera up there to just be sure.  Next thing I know $1200 bill shows up.  Of course in 6 months there will be a follow up ($150).  This is on top of the "my stomach hurts" issues which have required 3 visits (at $100 each) to a gastroenterologist which resulted in her taking an OTC probiotic and eating Activia for breakfast.  I also don't know if it's necessarily her or doctors taking advantage of the "come see me for a follow up next month".

I mean I guess like I've never had any "issues" that have required special tests so maybe I am just not accustomed to these types of bills.  I'm just of the opinion that if something hurts or I don't feel good...I tough it out for a week or two and it always goes away.  My first thought isn't "let me get to the doctor ASAP". 

I also don't begrudge her going to the therapist or taking associated medication.  I think it has been helpful and she will likely go down to every other week starting in 2016 (her idea, not mine).  I also have never said to her she should not go or anything.  I just feel like every month we are spending easily $600+ on medical issues ($500 for therapist, at least $100 for something else) and to me, it's a lot of money for something I don't understand.

MayDay

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So I can definitely see both sides. 

My family has really high medical expenses, and it is all for routine maintenance type stuff due to all 4 of us (2 adults, 2 kids) having genetic conditions or chronic conditions that require a test or 3 a year, each, plus associated pre and post appointments.  It does add up, and it sucks.  But.... what are you going to do?  Not get the recommended follow-up care?  So we just plan for hitting definitely our deductible every year, and probably our OOP Max.  Its built into the budget and its been consistent, so it isn't a shock. 

That said, knowing this, we certainly take medical budgeting strongly into account when considering job changes.  For example  recently was offered a job which I did not accept for many reasons, but one of them was that I would be offered very crappy insurance.  Thus I could no longer be on H's insurance, but he would still pay the same rate, plus I would now be paying separate premiums and separate deductibles.  You learn to account for that and plan accordingly. 

Now in your case, yes I would be frustrated too.  My mom recently had the blood in urine thing, and due to a specific increased risk of bladder cancer for her (due to genetic form of cancer she has) they did the whole 3K test.  For her it makes sense.  I was offered the blood test/US and my doc suggested I decline it because it leads to exactly what you had happen- you find a tiny bit of blood, go do an expensive test, and there is no data to support that it saves any lives, it just costs a ton of money.  So I declined to even do the blood test/US. 

Have you ever brought this up at all?  Could you bring it up in the context of her therapy, and ask if you could come with her to therapy and talk about it with a neutral 3rd party present?  Sort of like "honey, your medical expenses have been high for what ended up being nothing, I am worried this is an expression of your anxiety" kind of thing.  Similarly, did you speak up in the specialist's office?  I would have piped up right then and there and "piled on" with the doctor who was saying she didn't need an additional test. 

Quite a bit of research out there supports you that all these extra tests do not improve outcomes.  Unfortunately when you look at them one at a time, it is easy to justify it and to not know if you should or shouldn't.  I feel like I have had to be pretty conscious about resisting, because for a long time I had insurance that covered everything, so i just said "sure" to whatever the doc suggested.  It is hard to change that habit. 

vivophoenix

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Hi All,

My spouse is a bit of a hypochondriac.  She also sees a therapist for some anxiety issues.

I love her and only want to support her.  But the facts are as follows:

We pay $125/wk for her to see a therapist for 50 minutes.  She puts the max in her HSA and pays for it out of that, I give her $62.50/wk to pay for the difference and she makes up the rest OOP.  This of course leaves no HSA money for the following:

She constantly is going to the doctor to get this or that checked out.  $70 here.  $100 there.  Always a "specialist" is required.  And yesterday a bill came from a "test" she had done.  $3800, of which we will be out of pocket $1200.  I was
internally losing my shit on this as it was completely unnecessary exam, IMO.   Of course she needs to go back for a follow up in 6 months...which will be another $150.

I am a once a year physical type of guy.  I get it for free.  If I feel under the weather I take some Robotussin.  When we were just dating...I always just kind of figured "hey she wants to throw money away that's her prerogative".  Now that we are hitched, I am going insane spending $1000s of dollars on medical expenses for really...unimportant things.  She is a healthy 30 year old woman.

Do any of you have a situation like this?  How do you cope?

i know that couples are a unit and all. but the wording when you talk about the money is strange:
SHE maxes out the HSA, and YOU GIVE HER extra money. and then you list the exact amount like you write her a check or something.

so you sound  resentful and also like someone giving an allowance.

you are asking for financial advice/marital advice/ and health advice all rolled into one.

so financial:

make an illness budget, include counseling and the amount it takes to meet your out of pocket medical expenses every year. ( i thought after a certain amount you can also take a tax deduction. re calculate your retirement goals.

marital:
 does she know that getting 2k in tests every month in addition to the counseling is making you resentful. also are you cool being married to someone with a costly health issue.

 not saying you only weigh things in terms of money, but getting a magical bill for $3800 with out any warning or conversation is a bit shocking. does your wife actually talk to you about these bills and specialist visits before she goes and agrees to these things? i am not saying ask permission. but a "hey honey, the dr mentioned this optional procedure that i would like to have done, but it will cost alot. he says its not worth it, but i need it to feel better." then you aren't blindsided.

are you willing to do 'till death do us part'  to support someone who's health will be draining you at least 6k a year, for what you believe are minor issues?

treat this like a long term health issue like say cancer?

health:

your  wife IS sick, she sees a medial practitioner,  long term once a week and her illness expresses itself in a need to have unnecessary medical procedures.



 to be honest, when one partner is sick and takes up more resources than the other partner, this usually causes strain.

you say you are okay with this, but your post indicates otherwise.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2015, 11:05:03 AM by vivophoenix »

Jags4186

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Hi All,

My spouse is a bit of a hypochondriac.  She also sees a therapist for some anxiety issues.

I love her and only want to support her.  But the facts are as follows:

We pay $125/wk for her to see a therapist for 50 minutes.  She puts the max in her HSA and pays for it out of that, I give her $62.50/wk to pay for the difference and she makes up the rest OOP.  This of course leaves no HSA money for the following:

She constantly is going to the doctor to get this or that checked out.  $70 here.  $100 there.  Always a "specialist" is required.  And yesterday a bill came from a "test" she had done.  $3800, of which we will be out of pocket $1200.  I was
internally losing my shit on this as it was completely unnecessary exam, IMO.   Of course she needs to go back for a follow up in 6 months...which will be another $150.

I am a once a year physical type of guy.  I get it for free.  If I feel under the weather I take some Robotussin.  When we were just dating...I always just kind of figured "hey she wants to throw money away that's her prerogative".  Now that we are hitched, I am going insane spending $1000s of dollars on medical expenses for really...unimportant things.  She is a healthy 30 year old woman.

Do any of you have a situation like this?  How do you cope?

i know that couples are a unit and all. but the wording when you talk about the money is strange:
SHE maxes out the HSA, and YOU GIVE HER extra money. and then you list the exact amount like you write her a check or something.

so you sound  resentful and also like someone giving an allowance.

you are asking for financial advice/marital advice/ and health advice all rolled into one.

so financial:

make an illness budget, include counseling and the amount it takes to meet your out of pocket medical expenses every year. ( i thought after a certain amount you can also take a tax deduction. re calculate your retirement goals.

marital:
 does she know that getting 2k in tests every month in addition to the counseling is making you resentful. also are you cool being married to someone with a costly health issue.

 not saying you only weigh things in terms of money, but getting a magical bill for $3800 with out any warning or conversation is a bit shocking. does your wife actually talk to you about these bills and specialist visits before she goes and agrees to these things? i am not saying ask permission. but a "hey honey, the dr mentioned this optional procedure that i would like to have done, but it will cost alot. he says its not worth it, but i need it to feel better." then you aren't blindsided.

are you willing to do 'till death do us part'  to support someone who's health will be draining you at least 6k a year, for what you believe are minor issues?

treat this like a long term health issue like say cancer?

health:

your  wife IS sick, she sees a medial practitioner,  long term once a week and her illness expresses itself in a need to have unnecessary medical procedures.



 to be honest, when one partner is sick and takes up more resources than the other partner, this usually causes strain.

you say you are okay with this, but your post indicates otherwise.

Correct I basically write her a check once a month (well do an online transfer). We have 3 buckets, hers, mine, and ours. Because I make more than her I have been "subsidizing" the hers part of this. Again I do not resent helping pay for things which are necessary. But how do I judge what is necessary and what isn't?  If a doctor says I think you should have XYZ test who am I to say no to that?  How do you balance that?

vivophoenix

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Hi All,

My spouse is a bit of a hypochondriac.  She also sees a therapist for some anxiety issues.

I love her and only want to support her.  But the facts are as follows:

We pay $125/wk for her to see a therapist for 50 minutes.  She puts the max in her HSA and pays for it out of that, I give her $62.50/wk to pay for the difference and she makes up the rest OOP.  This of course leaves no HSA money for the following:

She constantly is going to the doctor to get this or that checked out.  $70 here.  $100 there.  Always a "specialist" is required.  And yesterday a bill came from a "test" she had done.  $3800, of which we will be out of pocket $1200.  I was
internally losing my shit on this as it was completely unnecessary exam, IMO.   Of course she needs to go back for a follow up in 6 months...which will be another $150.

I am a once a year physical type of guy.  I get it for free.  If I feel under the weather I take some Robotussin.  When we were just dating...I always just kind of figured "hey she wants to throw money away that's her prerogative".  Now that we are hitched, I am going insane spending $1000s of dollars on medical expenses for really...unimportant things.  She is a healthy 30 year old woman.

Do any of you have a situation like this?  How do you cope?

i know that couples are a unit and all. but the wording when you talk about the money is strange:
SHE maxes out the HSA, and YOU GIVE HER extra money. and then you list the exact amount like you write her a check or something.

so you sound  resentful and also like someone giving an allowance.

you are asking for financial advice/marital advice/ and health advice all rolled into one.

so financial:

make an illness budget, include counseling and the amount it takes to meet your out of pocket medical expenses every year. ( i thought after a certain amount you can also take a tax deduction. re calculate your retirement goals.

marital:
 does she know that getting 2k in tests every month in addition to the counseling is making you resentful. also are you cool being married to someone with a costly health issue.

 not saying you only weigh things in terms of money, but getting a magical bill for $3800 with out any warning or conversation is a bit shocking. does your wife actually talk to you about these bills and specialist visits before she goes and agrees to these things? i am not saying ask permission. but a "hey honey, the dr mentioned this optional procedure that i would like to have done, but it will cost alot. he says its not worth it, but i need it to feel better." then you aren't blindsided.

are you willing to do 'till death do us part'  to support someone who's health will be draining you at least 6k a year, for what you believe are minor issues?

treat this like a long term health issue like say cancer?

health:

your  wife IS sick, she sees a medial practitioner,  long term once a week and her illness expresses itself in a need to have unnecessary medical procedures.



 to be honest, when one partner is sick and takes up more resources than the other partner, this usually causes strain.

you say you are okay with this, but your post indicates otherwise.

Correct I basically write her a check once a month (well do an online transfer). We have 3 buckets, hers, mine, and ours. Because I make more than her I have been "subsidizing" the hers part of this. Again I do not resent helping pay for things which are necessary. But how do I judge what is necessary and what isn't?  If a doctor says I think you should have XYZ test who am I to say no to that?  How do you balance that?

if i read correctly this isnt the case of the dr saying she needed anything. the dr said she didnt need it. so you balance it by talking to your wife, and the therapist, or keeping even more separate finances, how did she finance all of her medical prior to being married?  have her medical needs ballooned since you have started financing them?

begood

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As someone who was perfectly healthy until age 30 and then had a series of girl-part issues that led to six surgeries, two miscarriages, and eventually a hysterectomy at 41, let me say that an Unknown Source of Abdominal Pain can be extremely anxiety-producing. Like, even if she wasn't already prone to anxiety, that shit would do it real quick.

In my case, I had six months of UTIs, complete with blood in the urine, that turned out to be related to the grapefruit-sized endometrioma hanging out on my right ovary, pushing all my organs around and being the worst neighbor ever.

Abdominal pain has so many potential sources that it might be good to get yet more tests - an ob-gyn visit, for one.

Jags4186

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if i read correctly this isnt the case of the dr saying she needed anything. the dr said she didnt need it. so you balance it by talking to your wife, and the therapist, or keeping even more separate finances, how did she finance all of her medical prior to being married?  have her medical needs ballooned since you have started financing them?

Well before she used to save $5000 in her retirement accounts a year. Now she puts $23500 a year in. That's where the money came from.

justajane

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This is hard, because the way you describe it, I wouldn't have undergone the test either. And I'm probably further on the hypochondriac side than you are, so now I understand what you are saying. If a doctor told me not to worry and I wasn't in pain, I would certainly not have pursued it any further.

In that case, I would say in the future you could express that you are concerned about the possibly downsides to further tests? Obviously x-rays, cat-scans, MRIs all entail risk, and I imagine such things like the invasive bladder test could possibly led to an infection. This won't help you with this particular bill, but maybe in the future this approach could help? That way it is framed around your concern for her overall health rather than about saving a buck. Plus, in my mind, going to the doctor or hospital at all during certain times of the year entails risk, since that is where sick people are.

I think going down to twice a month for therapy is a good goal for her. I imagine it would also be empowering to realize that you are able to decrease your visits and still be mentally healthy.

Jakejake

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I don't consider myself a hypochondriac. I go for the once a year physicals (mostly), and occasional things like strep throat or chronic pain.

I can tell you, if I had blood in my urine, I would sure the hell check it out completely. And if I had stomach pain that was ongoing, I would also see a doctor to get to the root of the problem. And in fact, I did do that once, and embarrassingly it was intestinal blockage which I traced back to having a job where I can only reasonably use a bathroom once in an 8 hour day, so I dehydrate myself most of the time to get through it. I did a serious dose of laxatives, and that solved things for that event, but I really felt like I was having appendicitis or something. I've bad coworkers call 911 thinking they had a medical emergency for exactly that pain/situation. She may have been in severe pain, she may have been worried about a serious blockage (I also had a coworker once have to have surgery for that), she may have been worried about having chrone's or celiac issues. Come to think of it, I also had an online friend die from colon cancer last year who had "stomach pains" and thought it was really not a big deal but just wanted to get a cheap fix or explanation for it.

So while she may be having anxiety issues, the physical things you described don't seem way out of line to check out from my perspective. It falls under the ounce of prevention category - and as someone who has never been to a therapist, and never been diagnosed with any anxiety issues, I will say that medical stuff that can be a warning sign of a more serious problem would make anyone anxious. It would be more foolish to let it go and then get hit with the ER bill. The problem in those events seems to me not to be her reaction, so much as the outrageous cost of medical care in this country, which isn't her fault.

Is there a chance she could switch to a different insurance plan that would give her a lower deductible?

lbmustache

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Two things:

1) She may genuinely have a medical issue or believe that she does. The latter part would require therapy which you are already doing.

2) It's a result of her anxiety which you already pointed out.

Not knowing your wife, it's hard to say. I have personal experience (as a woman) - I had major, major anxiety in 2010. I think I went to the doctor EVERY MONTH for EVERY SINGLE MINUTE PROBLEM. A new freckle on my face? Skin cancer. Sore throat? Some rare bone malformation that had been previously undiagnosed. Dry spots on my skin? Clearly the worse possible scenario. Stomach pains? Need to go to the ER right away because it's something horrific.

I can sum up what the actual issues were: aging, a regular sore throat, not enough water + too many hot showers, and uh, gas.

The doctor would run all the tests for me at my insistence but he just kept telling me that nothing was wrong. He would say, "I can run this for you, but you don't have thyroid cancer." If you look at my medical reports from that time I was tested for every single thing under the sun. EVERYTHING. Every obscure hormone, mineral, etc. I even had a CT scan because I told the doctor, "what if I'm one of the rare people who have their organs on the opposite side of their body."

It was just really bad anxiety that I refused to take medication for. I started exercising, I got a dog, and I think the most important thing my doctor told me was: STOP LOOKING SHIT UP ON THE INTERNET. He said that was a driving force of my anxiety and honestly since I stopped that, I haven't started, and things have been ok.

Good luck to the both of you, I hope it gets resolved soon.

cavewoman

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How is your health insurance? Hsa, hdhp, how are you not meeting your deductible before November?

Noodle

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Most people come with baggage into a relationship, whether it's children from a former marriage, complicated family relations, or debt from past choices. Some of it we choose, and some chooses us. Your wife comes with anxiety, which may have more or less symptoms, depending on her treatment and self-care, but will probably never go away entirely, and it appears that her anxiety may manifest through medical worrying. First of all, perhaps it would be helpful to be grateful that on the range of behaviors that can come with a mental health issue, excessive concern with taking care of oneself, and using established medical care to do it (as opposed to oddball, non-insured solutions) is on the more constructive end of the spectrum. Imagine if your wife had serious symptoms and COULDN'T be persuaded to go to the doctor or insisted on spending a lot of money on vitamins or herbal remedies or whatever.  Or if she chose shopping, or gambling, or constant expensive socializing to self-medicate. At least if something does come up, it's likely to get caught early.

Then the question is how to deal with this particular baggage most constructively. Would your wife give permission for you to talk to her therapist, to get some insight on how to cope with this particular symptom? (Particularly how to have conversations about medical decisions). Would asking to be included in her medical appointments give you an opportunity to back up the doctor when he advises against a test, or would that cause more conflict? What about agreeing to come home and discuss follow-up tests before making the appointment, instead of doing it at the doctor's office?

You might also want to rethink how you handle the family budget. Reflecting on it from the perspective that your wife may have this issue long-term, how should your budget and financial decisions be shaped? (For instance, we have several insurance options at my job. In your shoes, I would pick the one that had the lowest costs for heavy use of medical care, even though it has some other disadvantages.) Overall--try thinking of this as a "thing that is" rather than "a thing I can talk my wife out of" and use those relentless optimization skills to work with it instead of getting frustrated.

pachnik

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Well, I am a woman with a fair amount of anxious feelings so I can relate to your wife.  But I can also relate to you because those expenses sound costly.

Re: anxiety - I did have some counselling a long time ago but it was mostly to learn techniques to help myself.  Stuff like reframing anxious thoughts.  I did have to pay for this out-of-pocket so didn't want to go too many times.  It depends on what your wife is discussing with her therapist.  i.e. fallout anxiety from PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder are very different things.

But one thing that I do is sort of pace myself with things that create anxious feelings in me and then just ride it out.   Also, I am in a 12-step program that, among other things, addresses worrying/obsessive thinking.  If you are interested, please pm me.  This may not apply to your wife at all. 

Re: doctor's visits.  I am in Canada so things are a little different here.  We don't pay out of pocket for visiting doctors or specialists.  What I do is I let a symptom continue for 2 - 3 weeks before I see a doctor and sometimes the thing resolves itself.   I also had a doctor (who just retired) that I trusted and if she said I needed the test, I went.  If she said further testing was not necessary, I didn't go. 

Good luck.  I know personally how much living with anxiety sucks.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2015, 01:29:12 PM by pachnik »

use2betrix

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I ran into this issue, though more mild I'm sure. Let me start off by saying I'm very forward and don't sugar coat things. What I did was simply part of the dynamics of my relationship.

My fiancé was like that terribly when we first started dating. "This hurt" or "that hurt" non stop. It got old so I started just calling her out on it. I'd semi sarcastically say "should I call an ambulance? Do I need to take you to the ER?"

There's a difference between being compassionate for issues and people who are being ridiculous.

Like you said, she is a hypochondriac which means you don't believe something is wrong, so I don't think I'm too out of line here. If something is wrong this thread would be about a sick wife, not a hypochondriac.

Has she brought these issues up to her therapist? Sounds pretty major.

FYI - after the ribbing with my now fiancé, she has been amazing the last three years. Her being a hypochondriac was gone after about 6 months together. Sometimes it needs to be pointed out how ridiculous they're being.

Everyone is different. What I did won't work for all I'm sure, however her "rheumatoid arthritis" (which she was never actually diagnosed with) seems to of all but disappeared. Went from hurting her non stop to basically going away, she's far more active and feels great.

cheddarpie

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I agree with what many of the previous posts have said, but want to add one other suggestion that your wife see a naturopath.

I lived on the east coast for most of my life until moving to Seattle in 2012 and always thought of naturopathy as a bit woo-woo and not a "real" doctor (in many states on the east coast, they are not licensed as "real" doctors; in Washington, they are). Then I had a very frustrating skin infection (ON MY FACE) that multiple dermatologists couldn't help me with, so finally I ended up with a naturopath.

The reason I suggest it for your wife is that the practice is completely different and more holistic (in the way of looking at your whole health picture, not in the woo-wood way): my appointment took two hours and was basically a long conversation where the doctor said to me, "tell me everything that has ever bothered you. This is your chance to be a hypochondriac; don't leave anything out, no matter how insignificant it might seem." It was pretty amazing, and eased so much of my anxiety -- I had never had someone listen to me like that before, and she was able to offer a number of suggestions to improve various conditions/discomforts just with pretty straightforward lifestyle changes and, eventually, an elimination diet to see what might be the root cause of my skin issues. Ultimately she ended up referring me to a different dermatologist as well, and that was what impressed me the most -- where she saw that I had something wrong that diet wasn't going to fix, she wasn't afraid to pass me back to the medical profession.



pk_aeryn

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Generally speaking, young women spend more on healthcare and visits than young men do.  Before the ACA and an annual gyno exam is now free, we HAD to go to the gyno to get birth control prescribed and required to do Pap smear lab work, which we used to have to pay for.  Not to mention our anatomy makes us much more suspetible to UTI infections and yeast infections.  Our anatomy means it often requires ultrasounds and etc to get an idea of what everything looks like- it's easier to avoid costly tests when ones genitalia hangs outside the body.

So it's really easy as a young dude to need virtually no medical care except for snowboarding accidents.

You might be getting sticker shock because of the HSA-- but those tests and visits don't sound like a hypochondriac to me.

little_brown_dog

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Would it help to have a conversation with her about how to handle future medical expenses before the next episode occurs? Don’t blame it on her anxiety or downplay the supposed seriousness of her “problems” – that will just make her defensive. Focus on the objective truth regarding the costliness of the care. Something like “hey we have been having a lot of medical bills lately – for the next few months if we need to go to the doctors can we arrange to talk about non-mandatory tests/specialist visits with each other before we commit? That way we can plan for it.”  This might help with her just jumping on every suggestion for an additional test when the doctors don’t really see the need for it. In my experience, providers will make it VERY clear when they think you really need something (they’ll just tell you that it is needed) vs. “hey we can offer this if you are worried, what do you think?”

Playing with Fire UK

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I'm gonna counter the suggestions of less therapy with a suggestion for either more or better therapy. While I'm not a medic, the frequent doctor visits sound like a real problem that is starting in her mind. 

When I was recovering from a serious injury a decade ago, I was frequently seeing the doctor because my body didn't feel normal any more (many of these were real outcomes as a result of the changes to my body and life, but not actual medical problems). Spending time taking care of my health and exercising to figure out what my new body could do helped out loads, I'm now more. No idea if anything likes this applies to your wife.

Depending on your wife's personality and concerns; maybe spend some time looking for positive medical news stories, and make changes to your lives based on being healthy (exercise, eat less red meat, get good quality sleep). If the concerns are from feelings of powerlessness, this could help [again, not a medic].

golden1

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Quote
I'm gonna counter the suggestions of less therapy with a suggestion for either more or better therapy.

Yes, I have dysthymia with a side of generalized anxiety disorder, and I've been through a few therapists over the years.  The first one was just standard talk therapy, which was fine, but not particularly helpful.  I talked through my childhood, but I didn't really learn any skills to mitigate my anxiety.  It wasn't until my second therapist taught me CBT techniques that I began to really get better.  He wasn't a good fit more me personality wise so I found another therapist who helped me with some meditation exercises.  She was by far my best therapist, and she actually fired me when she thought I had a good handle on things.  She wasn't looking for perpetual money from me, but really had an interest in me getting better. 

Therapy isn't a one size fits all thing, and if she has been going for years with no results, she might want to look elsewhere. 

goatmom

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If you love her and only want to support her - do just that.  $125 for therapy is a bargain.  Be thankful that the tests found nothing. 

I'm a red panda

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Can you select insurance with a lower out of pocket max, perhaps even having the two of your on different plans so that your premiums don't skyrocket too much?  Then she can get all the "free" medical care she wants...

If the doctors are suggesting the tests, and it isn't her going to the doctor asking for specific ones, I think it is unfair to characterize her as a hypochondriac. It's much better for a test to find nothing than to ignore a nagging source of pain that turns out to be something.

former player

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If your wife puts $23,500 into her retirement accounts each year, she is bringing a lot more financially to your marriage than she is costing you in health expenses - and that's only looking at the financial side, not all the other benefits of marriage.  So I think you need to forget about the costs: in the grand scheme of things they are a pretty marginal issue, and you have a tricky emotional communication to have with your wife.  If you are focused on the monetary cost you will lose sight of the big priority, which is a healthy, happy wife for the next 50 years, and if she gets an inkling that you are being selfishly financial about it, you may poison your discussions with her.

I don't know how it is best to approach you wife on the health/hypochondria issues, but there are enough suggestions already for you to think about and pick the best approach for you personally.  Best of luck.

Cpa Cat

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Does your wife actually acknowledge that she may be prone to hypochondria and that her anxiety spikes when it comes to medical issues? Is this something that she talks to her therapist about?

Because I would hope for a bit more support and discussion from a therapist if she's seeing him/her on a weekly basis. But if she doesn't even mention this to her therapist, then you can't expect the therapist to help her with it.

It's also possible that an HSA is not the best plan for her. But it might be, if the therapy is your top medical expense - since it can be hard to find a plan that covers it. Make sure you do a cost-benefit analysis on the tax benefits of the HSA vs paying a higher monthly premium for an excellent health plan.

honeybbq

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We pay $125/wk for her to see a therapist for 50 minutes.  She puts the max in her HSA and pays for it out of that, I give her $62.50/wk to pay for the difference and she makes up the rest OOP. 

Sounds like she has a job and an income. What do you mean that "you" give her $62.50 a week?


Nevermind, I guess you answered. Maybe it's the tone, but you don't really sound supportive to me. Just plan on your max out of pocket every year and don't worry about it. You can't fight her on this without losing her, so it sounds.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2015, 10:29:32 AM by honeybbq »

norabird

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UTI issues are not great and if the test was to follow up on blood in her urine, even if she was told it was probably fine by her Dr., I can see going for it anyway. UTI problems that are untreated can lead to serious kidney problems.

Part of the issue may be that there is no transparency about what these tests cost beforehand even if you are trying to find out. So I doubt she expected the price tag to be that high. Maybe you can talk about attempting to discern the price out of pocket in advance going forward--but our system is purposefully opaque, and the cost can be quite a surprise.

Alternatively maybe an HSA is not right for you guys.

Jschange

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If this didn't cost money, would you care?

If not, then you two need to sit down and figure out a new financial plan, so that when your wife seeks health care, she isnt adding to her stress levels by worrying about you and money.

If you'd still be annoyed by her health issues if it was free (and I bet you would be annoyed), then you need to remember that this isn't new, that you married her knowing that she was attentive to her health and has anxiety issues, and you chose a life together. And if you want to choose something else, or choose to be miserable, that's your choice and not her fault.

bord

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The marital stress over this kind of thing isn't worth it. I totally understand the eye twitching rage that can come from being on the supply side of a high demand financial drain. My wife hits the deductible for our HDHP every January (for entirely valid medical reasons). It puts a serious financial strain on the household. Instead of giving her the added scrutiny that I instinctively want to put on every last doctor bill, I just max out the HSA a year in advance, know that money is a sunk cost and move on. I am healthier for it, she is healthier for it, and we are healthier for it.

I'm not suggesting that your situation is identical but I do recommend finding ways to curb your reaction to the medical bills for sanity purposes. Fight over the money stuff that doesn't involve personal health and keep supporting her in getting help with that anxiety.

ditheca

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tl;dr  For our family, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

DW certainly seemed a hypochondriac for the first 6 years of our marriage.  She too has anxiety disorder, and slipped in and out of depression/OCD diagnosis's.

But it was the other random physical problems that frustrated me.  Everything from spasms to partial seizures to sudden collapsing.  She's seen dozens of doctors and had an obscene number of procedures, multiple MRIs, etc.  Nobody could find anything wrong and they suggested she try to "not stress out so much."

But the doctors were all wrong.

After six years of this, we finally stumbled across a brilliant geneticist who correctly diagnosed her with EDS and helped us plan to cope with her chronic disability.  It is very manageable once it was no longer a mystery.  She no longer rushes to the ER when she gets random severe pains.  2015 was the first year she didn't have any major surgeries, and her quality of life has increased dramatically since the diagnosis.

Her mother and aunts have also been to the doctor and are now getting help as well.  Our oldest son also inherited EDS, and early intervention has been priceless.  Having a name for the problem allowed us work with the school system to get him a few crucial accommodations.

galliver

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I haven't been diagnosed with anxiety, but I've been "cautious" and prone to worry since I was a kid. I distinctly recall babysitting my sisters and having visions of my parents dead in a ditch if they were the slightest bit late returning.

My worries didn't really turn to medical issues until my third year of grad school, when I was getting ready for my first conference. I was so stressed I got unexplained nausea and abdominal pains from it (which were atypical symptoms for me, generally), and like someone above mentioned, it's a more suspicious symptom for women-it's not just stomach and bowels in there. It turned out to be nothing, except maybe excessive coffee intake. But it definitely felt like something was wrong.

As you can surely tell from above accounts, every person's experience is different. I guess I just wanted to point out it's possible external stressors make this worse.

Dezrah

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(Haven't read every word in thread, so I apologize if this is redundant or moot.)

I get the impression her doctors might be unaware of her propensity for anxiety. They're probably doing their best to make her an informed patient but she doesn't have the mental state to make the best balanced decisions for herself (though you should confirm this with her therapist first).

I think she and her therapist should work on a letter for the doctors stating that when there are options for more thorough testing with no evidence of improved outcomes, these should not be mentioned directly to the patient in order to avoid provoking anxiety. If in doubt, they can call you and you can make a rational choice in her best interest with the information. When she and her therapist think she's ready, she can tear up the note and go back to managing herself.