By Sarah O’Leary
Imagine if these were a warrior’s pre-battle instructions:
“You’re going up against an adversary that you cannot see. It can strike you from all sides, it controls almost all of the rules of engagement and there’s only so much you can ever really understand about its clandestine operations. If you fail, your family can be put in physical and financial jeopardy. Oh, and good luck out there!”
Working moms fight these battles on a regular basis with their health insurance. In the United States, healthcare is a $2.8 trillion dollar industry in which billion-dollar insurance companies and healthcare providers hold the lion’s share of power. Moms operate as the “Chief Healthcare Officers” of the family units, often overseeing the care of their parents and other relatives as well. If this were the only work function working women performed, it alone could be a full-time job.
Family healthcare is a trickier challenge than most we face. How we care for our families is intimate, emotional and failure to make the right decisions can be physically and fiscally costly. Did we choose the right insurance plan? Hire the right doctors? Should we have gone in sooner when Susie had a cough or waited longer? We struggle to do what is right for our families without being able to get a clear picture of the ever-changing battlefield.
As a healthcare expert and a woman, I can assure you there is no perfect way to handle family wellness. However, you can take certain steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your healthcare and paying a fair price for it.
Give your guilt a permanent “time out.”
Feeling guilt, for any reason, takes time away from your productivity and leaves you with nothing positive in return. The healthcare industry writes the rules consumers have to follow, and the rules change as often as the tides. Not understanding every nook and cranny is nothing to feel guilty about.
Never pay your medical bills without question.
The healthcare industry is well aware that women control the healthcare decisions in the household and often pay the bills. We are typically trusting of our healthcare providers. Surely, they would never send us a bill we don’t owe, and we pay our bills on time because we are honest and we want to protect our families! Don’t! Insurance companies make mistakes and so do healthcare providers. If you have insurance and you are being charged more than what your policy says you owe, question it. Consumers overpay an estimated $2 billion dollars every year that we don’t owe. We lose nearly $300 just because basic paperwork isn’t completely correctly. Never accept that the doctor, hospital or insurance company is infallible or has your sense of ethics/morals.
When dealing with a medical event, call an expert or call a friend to help you.
Working moms know how to juggle, but sometimes the best thing to do is to call someone to help. When you’re dealing with a medical issue within your family, an objective trusted resource can help you navigate your relationships with your health insurance company and healthcare providers. The bills, claims and forms can pile up, and managing them successfully is really difficult when you’re trying to focus on getting well. Call ExHale Health or someone you trust. Friends don’t let friends manage their healthcare alone.
Limit your costs by staying in network and calling ahead.
If you have a PPO-managed care health insurance policy, you will save money by staying in-network. In non-emergency situations, it’s always smart to try to use providers that are in your network. If your doctor refers you to a specialist, make certain that person is also in your network. If you need any additional procedures, check to make sure all involved (doctors, hospitals, imaging labs, etc.) and the procedures themselves are approved by your insurance company.
Keep blame out of the game.
Working moms need to celebrate all that gets done rather than the things that could have been done better. There is no perfection to be found in healthcare. You just need to do the best you can, and no that your efforts are enough. The key to healthcare management is not to be afraid or feel guilty. Guilt and fear make us give our power away, and that only makes it easier for the industry to get more of our money than they deserve.
Sarah O’Leary is the Founder/CEO of ExHale Health, a company that helps consumers save money, time and stress by managing their healthcare for them.