As the end of the year approaches, it is the ideal time to make health care appointments, either for your annual wellness physical or for treatments and services for which a deductible must be met. November and December are often the months of the year when patients and families finally meet their health insurance deductibles. However, these two months are often the busiest with holidays, family, and travel absorbing a bulk everyone’s free time. So, Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to try to get in to their health related appointments sooner rather than later. Now is an excellent time to make your gastroenterology appointments for colonoscopy, upper endoscopy for reflux, or other elective procedures.
Things to Do Once Your Deductible is Met
Virtually all health insurance plans have an annual deductible which must be paid out by the patient or family before full health insurance benefits activate. Most insurance plans roll over in January, and the deductible “banks” reverts back to $0. For this reason, many people seek to have more expensive, elective procedures done once the deductible has been met.
As people receive necessary medical care throughout the year, most or all of the deductible is usually met by October or November. As a result, November and December are an excellent time to get routine appointments out of the way. Appointment availability is typically best during November, because doctors travel and visit family in the month of December as well, reducing the number of available appointments.
Medical issues which could be serious or may become worse over time should not be put off for any reason and medical care should be sought regardless of having met a deductible or not. The risks and costs of putting off any necessary treatments far outweigh the savings and will likely multiply with lack of treatment. Ignoring new symptoms can significantly impact the ability of any health care professional to care for and treat the condition casing the ailment.
However, elective procedures for problems which are not immediately pressing can be pushed to the end of the year when deductibles are met and payment for these procedures are a bit easier. Many people wait until their deductible is met to schedule several elective procedures, like:
- Diagnostic colonoscopy
- Upper endoscopy for reflux
- Annual skin cancer evaluation
- Annual physical, bloodwork, and EKG
- Physical Therapy
- Allergy Testing
Screening vs. Diagnostic Colonoscopy
Colonoscopy is one of the most important preventative and diagnostic procedures for detecting and treating colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions and diseases. Not all colonoscopies are the same, however, in purpose, and they are billed accordingly. When it comes to costs, it is helpful to understand the distinction between diagnostic and screening colonoscopy.
A screening colonoscopy is considered preventative wherein the patient undergoes the colonoscopy in the absence of indicative signs or problematic symptoms (of which there are usually few with colon cancer). The purpose of the screening colonoscopy is to test for colorectal cancer or polyps. The intent of the screening colonoscopy is not changed if polyps or colorectal cancer is found, and it will still be billed as a screening colonoscopy. After the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare and many health insurance companies are required to cover preventative, scheduled screenings without a co-pay or deductible.
Diagnostic colonoscopy is any colonoscopy done for the purpose of diagnosing specific signs or symptoms or for further exploration of an abnormal finding. Several of the reasons a patient might be referred for a diagnostic colonoscopy include:
- Rectal Bleeding
- Blood in the Stool
- Iron Deficency Anemia with unknown cause
- Bowel habit Changes
- On-going and Persistant Abdominal Pain
- Other Reasons
Biopsies may be taken or polyps are removed during this procedure and the resulting lab work is also considered diagnostic. Diagnostic colonoscopies costs aren’t waived by Medicare or third-party payors like screening tests are, and if a patient’s deductible is met, a screening colonoscopy is much more affordable.
To schedule your consultation, colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, or any other gastroenterological treatment, please contact the largest, most experienced group of gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge - Gastroenterology Associates - by clicking below and entering your information or calling (225) 927-1190. So, schedule your 2014 health appointments now!
Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician. Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.