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End of year medical expenses may not be out-of-pocket

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 4:31 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Joel Sax is lucky. The university he goes to offers health insurance. But his studies typically take his mind elsewhere.

That’s why he was shocked with a deductible he recently had to pay after a simple procedure.

“I believe my deductible is around $1500 to $2,000,” says Sax. “I’m not entirely sure it’s been a while since I’ve looked into it,”

Other patients know exactly what their deductible is, and when they meet it.

Typically, it’s at the end of the year. And it means they can finally get that simple procedure or out-patient surgery and pay nothing out-of-pocket.

Doctors and out-patient surgery centers say they see an increase in patient load in November and December. “And then they will go in and look at other things they view as less necessary,” says Dermatologist Dr. Cindy Lamerson of the patients who fit in this category.

Dr. Lamerson says patients who may have a suspected skin cancer or other serious condition should get treatment right away and not wait to the end of the year.

However, she says for less complex procedures or a prescription, keeping an eye on your deductible may be a good way to save money in December on medical care.

The same goes for Flexible Spending Accounts. It is estimated patients leave approximately $120 on the accounts at the end of the year. Money that goes away at the end of December and begins to accumulate again beginning in January.

Dr. Lamerson says look to see what’s covered on the FSA and take advantage of a service.

“Some of those flexible spending accounts they can use Acupuncture, message all sorts of things. Any kind of minor procedure,” she says.

While the advice may be too late for 2021, look over your health insurance policies and keep track of medical expenses in 2022.

Experts say read the policy carefully, stay in your plan’s network of hospitals, doctors, and out-patient facilities, and make sure the care is pre-authorized.

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