This post is part of our “Dear E.B.” series, in which Mercer’s very own advice columnist (“E.B.,” for Employee Benefits) responds to questions concerning health and well-being that are on the minds of employees across the country.
I enrolled in a high-deductible plan with a Health Savings Account last year because it had the lowest paycheck deduction. My employer contributes money to the account and I was hoping I could save some of it for dental work I need, maybe a couple of years down the road. But my three-year-old gets ear infections and my husband has chronic allergies. After 4 visits to the pediatrician for antibiotics for her, and a trip to the ER for him, we used up the HSA money and then some. How will I ever get ahead?
I have a suggestion for you. Your employer offers a telemedicine program. That might help you save on visits to the pediatrician for your daughter’s ear infections. A typical office visit is about $100, but a telemedicine visit is only $40. You have the convenience of not leaving your house and dealing with a fussy child at the doctor’s office. You simply access the telemedicine program via phone or video, and your daughter can be seen by a licensed provider in as little as a few minutes. The provider can also call in a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice and hopefully your child is quickly on the mend!
As for your husband, if his allergies are causing cold-like symptoms, the ER is probably not the best place of service for him. He’s likely experienced long wait times and a hefty ER bill to boot. Telemedicine would also be a better option for him for the same reasons as for your daughter: being treated quickly while staying in the comfort of home and paying a nominal amount for the visit. For the longer term, though, your husband should find a Primary Care Physician that can monitor his condition and perhaps help him with a preventive medication regimen. Good luck and health to you all!
Advice by Eva Carlson in Mercer’s Washington, D.C. office