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Friday, July 13, 2018

Pricey meds


(Shutterstock image)

I just opened the bill for a simple surgery and was shocked to see that it was almost $6,000! Woah!

Luckily, it was the end of my insurance year, so I had already met my deductible and out of pocket limit. So I won't have to pay a copay on that bill.

That also tells me that I have spent a LOT of money on medical care over the last year.

If you are in the same boat, what can you do?
 
We use manufacturer's coupons for our inhalers. Son #2 and daughter Kitty and I are all on long term controller (maintenance) inhalers. Even thought insurance pays for most, we still have a $75 copay each month (for each of us.)  

Luckily, I have a really good pharmacy that knows us well (since we visit them so often.....) and they will search for manufacturer's coupons for us. So, instead of paying a $75 copay for my inhaler each month, I pay $25. In fact, when I renew my prescription each year, they search for a new coupon to apply to my copay. And they do that for my son and daughter's inhalers too. 

Years ago (in 2007), Son #2 was on a biologic injection to control his severe asthma. The medicine was given as a shot once a month, and his tiny vial of medicine was $1,000 per month. And he had monthly injections for 7 years. Insurance covered most of it, but we had a $125 copay each month. 

Which doesn't sound like much - but there are 4 of us with allergies and asthma, so monthly meds really add up. We found help on a website called Needymeds. They are a sort of website where you can go to find help with co-pays, find a low income/free clinic near you, etc,

Want to see if your drug has a copay help or coupon? Click here and select from the alphabet list of medicines.  

Want to find a clinic that is free/low incomes/or pay what you can afford? Click here.

They also have a list of mental health clinics, and even substance addiction clinics.


Want to attend a camp about asthma? You can find some listed here.  

Or you can search for camps or retreats for any other medical condition too.

So, you may have to do a little digging, but there are a lot of programs out there that can help.

Good luck!


Thursday, July 5, 2018

How does surgery effect asthma?


For anyone with an upcoming surgery, there are a few things to watch for (from my experience). You should have a detailed visit with your surgeon about your medical history (and family history.) Followed up by the Surgery Nurse who will usually called the week of surgery and repeat all of the same questions (so the hospital also has your medical history).

They usually ask if you have a family history (or personal history) of diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems, asthma, bad reactions to anesthesia, allergies to latex, etc. 

For asthma, they usually want to know:

  • What medications do you take?
  • Do you take a controller medicine? Or just a rescue inhaler?
  • Is your asthma under control?
It's helpful to keep a list of medications on your phone, so it you can easily tell them the names and doses of all of the medicine you take. Surgery Nurse will usually ask you to bring your inhaler to the hospital too.

So, now that they had all of their information about your medication and medical history, what about the surgery?

Some people find that your oxygen level can drop during the surgery. That can happen when they put the tube down your throat (intubate you) to help you breathe during surgery. It can help to keep your oxygen turned up during surgery.

Sometimes people are groggy after surgery and will pull off their oxygen mask without realizing it. That can be followed by a faint "Beep, beep, beep, beep" of the alarm going off for your oxygen monitor. You may hear a "Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!" from the nurse in the recovery room. You can ask them beforehand to put your mask back on if you pull it off in the recovery room.

After surgery, you may notice that your lungs don't "feel right." Sometimes people can start to breath really shallow and have a hard time taking a deep breathe. That can lead to pneumonia. 

And if you start coughing, you can pull the stitches out of the surgery site. They may have you use an "Incentive Spirometer" to help expand your lungs. If you aren't sure what an Incentive Spirometer is, you can watch a short video here to see how they work.


It may also help to use your nebulizer and have a breathing treatment. 

So, if you have a surgery day coming up, make sure you are prepared. It helps to keep taking your daily, controller inhaler and make sure you don't miss any doses after surgery either!

Keep your inhaler or nebulizer handy and make sure you call your doc if something doesn't feel right.