Do You Really Need that Medical Test? Here’s How to Save Money

by Travis Pizel · 4 comments

If you follow current events, you know that the measles is a big deal right now. My wife wanted to know who in our household was or wasn’t immunized, so we started pulling our medical records.

One call to our primary care physician verified that we had chosen to have our kids immunized when they were younger. I had my records transferred years ago, so they were also able to confirm I already had the vaccination as well. My wife, on the other hand ran into come challenges.

Here’s what our research for verifying the measles vaccine ended up teaching us.

Paying $0 for the Measles Vaccination

My wife moved around a lot as a child, so naturally she had difficulty locating her records. She called hospital after hospital, all of them saying they had no record of her. Which wasn’t surprising, as most of them also stated that if you haven’t been a patient for 10 years, they generally destroy your records. Eventually she gave up, and investigated what she should do next.

Her doctor told her that a blood test could be done to determine if she had been immunized. Before going ahead with the test, she looked into how much it would cost and if it was covered by insurance.

Come to find out that the test would cost us close to $500, and since we switched to a high-deductible medical plan with a health savings account this year, the cost would be applied to our deductible. That means the $500 would come out of our pocket.

Thinking of Your Needs

As she hung up the phone, I had another idea. I asked her to call back, and find out if there would be any harm in getting vaccinated even if she had actually had it done as a child. Surprisingly, nobody she talked to at our primary care physician’s office knew the answer.

They actually told us to talk to the Center For Disease Control (CDC) for the answer. Shaking my head, I searched the internet and found that the CDC actually suggests getting the shot if you don’t know whether you’ve been vaccinated.

I printed off a copy of the text, handed it to my wife, and told her to make an appointment to get the shot if that was the route she wanted to take. If she decides to get vaccinated, it will cost us $0 out of pocket because it falls under preventative medicine, which is covered 100% by our medical insurance.

Medical Lessons Learned

Know where your medical records are: This is not something young adults think about as they start their lives. But as we found out, it’s extremely important to know where they are, and have them transferred to your current primary care physician. If you let it go too long, they may be disposed of.

Don’t expect doctors to save you money: A doctor’s primary focus is to gather information and treat whatever ails you. To them, doing a blood test to find out if my wife had already been vaccinated probably seemed like a totally valid course of action. But, for us financially it was the wrong choice.

Get vaccinated just in case: Check your insurance coverage first, but most medical plans cover preventative medicine even if you have a high-deductible plan. If you want to be vaccinated (and I recognize not everyone agrees with this course of action, and that’s totally up to you), and you don’t know if you’ve had the shot, the CDC states there is no adverse side effects to getting the vaccination a second time.

It took a little work, but we finally have a path to resolve my wife’s measles vaccination question. In the process we learned a few very important lessons that will be useful in the future.

Have you ever had a doctor suggest a more expensive medical solution than necessary? Were you able to change the course of action and save money?

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  • Kate says:

    If you were born before 1957, you have probably had the measles and are therefore immune. One thing to think about if you are getting your medical information from Jenny McCarthy of The View, is that your unvaccinated child can get the measles and spread it to everyone she comes in contact with for four days before the rash appears. 90% NINETY PERCENT of the unvaccinated or immune-compromised people who contact a measles patient will get the measles. Oh, and if your unvaccinated child spreads the measles to a woman who is unvaccinated and pregnant, her baby could be born blind and deaf, and you can just imagine what the lawsuit would be worth. S0 get your children vaccinated.

    • I suspect that my wife has been vaccinated (although she was not born before 1957). But since we have no proof, she is getting the shot. I believe in vaccinations, so both of our kids have received all the recommended shots.

  • dojo says:

    Wow, that’s a pretty costly test. I would have also gotten the shot and just deal with it, especially since there’s no harm in re-doing it. Totally agreed on the medical records, too: keep them at hand and never trust anyone to do it for you.

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