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Medical Litter October 9, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Healthonymous, Money.
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I have new piles of clutter in my house. It’s medical litter. After a week with an unexpected cellulitis infection (truly what infection is ever expected). I have very interesting detritus accumulating. First, the pill bottles-4 new ones. Then the multiple page drug disclosure statements. Also the receipts; three co-pays (one more to come today), the pharmacy credit card receipts and the parking garage receipts.

One of the pill bottles was filled with brown and ivory oblong capsules (it said so on the label). That drug has been discarded in favor of a bottle of prettier pills. The new ones are light blue and green oblong capsules. Now, I do know where to dispose of the old ones-our local family owned drugstore chain will take care of them. Don’t throw unused drugs down the toilet! Check on the procedure in your town.

How long to keep the drug disclosure information forms? Do I file them in a notebook; scan them; write down the drug names on a type of weird “life list”.  (ask a birder). I have taught classes in which we discuss how long to keep all types of forms including credit card receipts/bills, real estate documents, old tax forms, old checks and bank statements but we never covered medical forms. Keeping them at all will just feed into my paper hoarding tendencies-I think I will shred them. The pill bottles can get recycled, after I remove my name from the labels (wouldn’t be healthonymous then would I?)

Off to the shredder it is!

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Just Relax-This Won’t Hurt a Bit September 19, 2009

Posted by Admin in Women.
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This summer I bagged three more departments at my local medical provider, dermatology, orthopedics and gastroenterology. Understand that this was not what I wanted to “do on my summer vacation”.  Plus they were not part of a medical treasure hunt-they were just things that it was time to have looked into (no pun intended). To date, the “life list” includes hematology/oncology, internal medicine, ob-gyn, urology, dermatology, physical therapy, radiology, the MRI department, gynecological oncology, and general surgery. Other trips in the last 6 months included an oral surgeon (also a first this year) and a repeat visit to the endodontist, in addition to the dentist (2 visits).

It’s hard to compare myself to others in my family, because I had cancer very early-so I’ve been a survivor for half my life. This means that I am accustomed to a high level of annual interaction with the health care delivery system. How does this compare with men in my family or younger people I wondered? I found a study called “The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs”, which had two quick clues for me.

One, I am female and two, I am in middle age. (Now, If 60 is the new 30, then I am absolutely not middle aged, and I am younger than Rickey Henderson.)

But I digress. In this 2004 study, the authors found that the  “per capita lifetime expenditure is $316,600, a third higher for females ($361,200) than males ($268,700). Two-fifths of this difference owes to women’s longer life expectancy. Nearly one-third of lifetime expenditures is incurred during middle age, and nearly half during the senior years. For survivors to age 85, more than one-third of their lifetime expenditures will accrue in their remaining years.”  (The Lifetime Distribution…..Alemayehu and Warner, 2004)

So ironically, because cancer did not kill me the first or second time, I will live longer, spend 1/3 more on health care than a similarly aged male and in my middle age I will spend 1/3 of my lifetime health care cost. Plus, with women’s generally lower average lifetime earnings, the health care I pay for  will be a larger percentage of my overall budget.

I am not more relaxed, nor do I feel better, but I am more informed. That’s the current tradeoff.

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