Get a Predetermination for Dental Work

delta dentalI pride myself on being on top of our medical expenses. So, my pride was definitely hurt when some recent dental work cost twice what we were expecting. Jay needed a crown. The dentist sent us a “Treatment Case” which included an estimate of the cost. Delta Dental covers 50% and the damage was $476 us, $476 Delta.

Not until the work was done and the paperwork submitted did we discover that the crown was not, in fact, covered. Note 41 on the Explanation of Benefits stated “This service is allowed 1 time in a 5 year period…” It had been 4 years and 3 months since Jay had the original crown on tooth no. 14.

I may be on top of our medical expenses, but I do not keep track of individual teeth.

This is the first time (in my recollection) that our benefits have not covered something. From now on, when it comes to non-preventative work we will be asking our dentist to get a predetermination from the insurance company. This, apparently, takes 4-6 weeks. In this case, Jay was looking at a root canal if he didn’t get the crown attended to. So, we wouldn’t have waited until the 5 years had passed.

But, hopefully, in the future getting predeterminations will show us that we are covered or warn us when we are not going to be covered. That way we can at least make an informed decision vs. getting an unpleasant surprise. Dental work is already unpleasant enough as it is!

Track Your Medical Expenses

doctorEvery year I keep track of all our medical expenses – copays for prescriptionsdoctor visits, and emergency room visits (remarkable how many of these our kids rack up), vision expenses, dental expenses. I’ve even started keeping track of what our various prescriptions would cost if we had to pay out of pocket.

As a result, I know that, in addition to the monthly deductions Jay’s employer takes out of his paycheck, we spent $3,529 in 2012, $1,402 in 2013, and $3,136 in 2014. I can quickly determine how much we spent on each person, and for what. Should we have to make choices on new health care options, or by the time we’re choosing supplemental health care coverage once Jay retires, etc. I will have years of data to help us analyze our choices.


fitbitJay was very sweet and surprised me with a FitBit last week. Except it was the more expensive Charge HR version. And, since he doesn’t shop much, he isn’t “outfitted” with coupons and discount gift cards etc.

He bought it at Target for $149.99. With tax, it came to $162.20.

The non-HR version is $129.99 pretty much everywhere. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get it. After using a 20% coupon and paying with a discount gift card, it cost me $102.99 (including tax), saving almost $60.

It can be both my Valentine’s and birthday presents. Now I just have to figure out how to use it! 😉

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

i've fallen and i can't get up“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Who hasn’t joked about this ad? It’s so funny until, suddenly you are 60 or 70 or 80, and you find that, indeed, you can’t get up!

And then there’s nothing at all funny about it. It happened to my father-in-law who became too weak to get up from the floor. It happened to my father, who was both too weak and too confused to even know how to get up. My mother couldn’t get him up and had to call a neighbor. One of my friends, a nurse, sometimes teaches a class to elderly people on the techniques of getting up from the floor.


I’m only in my mid-50s and my knees are already noticeably weak. Luckily, I do yoga a couple of times/week and I’m used to getting down and up. But, I always use my hands and I wonder when I stopped being able to stand up just with the use of my legs. 🙁

Practice getting down on the floor and getting back up. Every day. I’m going to see if I can strengthen my legs so I don’t need my hands on the floor…

Our Hummingbirds Are Back

hummingbird feederI posted, last year, about the “pond” Jay built me for Mother’s Day and about our hummingbirds.

Jay got me a second feeder for Mother’s Day and both of them are beseiged by the little critters.

They may be small, but they’re aggressive – dive bombing each other and even trying to threaten Jay (especially if he’s wearing red).

They are so cool to watch – absolute miracles when it comes to aviation! You know you’re getting old when you’re excited about hummingbirds… 😉


Time For a Part Time Job?

new jobHere are my criteria:

– between 8 and 12 hours/week
– no weekends or evenings
– maximum 15 minute commute
– free parking
– casual dress code
– no manual labor

As you can imagine, this cuts the job pool down substantially. 😉

And I’ll be lucky to get $10/hr.

Here are the reasons I’m contemplating a job:

– I have free time on my hands
– it will make me a more interesting, well-rounded person
– even if I only earn $400-$500/month, it will come in handy
– it will increase my social security benefits
– in the event I want to/have to work in 5-10 years, it will be a LOT easier if I start now. Getting hired at 54 will be a LOT easier than at 60 or 64.

Anyway, I interviewed for a position that, miraculously, meets my criteria. I hope they hire me, though I’m not counting on it. It’s in the registration department of the parks and recreations center I use. It would mean free use of the amenities – a perk, although my current expenses are pretty minimal. My biggest concern is how it will affect my ability to take vacations. 😉

And I’m sure that’ll be one of their biggest concerns. I’m already planning on a short trip to Calgary in June, 10 days in the Maritimes in July, and a week in Windermere in August.

Drink Plenty of Water

glass of waterI have no idea if drinking eight glasses of water a day is necessary. For years that’s what we’ve been told but recent reports contradict this. I do know, however, that drinking “enough” water helps to keep my intestines running smoothly and not drinking “enough” water will cause me to get a headache. Plus, I know a couple of people who’ve suffered with kidney stones and that not drinking “enough” water contributes to this condition. And we all know that a serious lack of water, as in only a few days, can lead to death. Death!

Clearly, it’s important to drink enough water – whatever that amount is. My doctor suggested I drink more water, based on my recent bloodwork. She wrote it on the report they sent to me. I think it had to do with my creatinine serum which, I believe, is related to kidney function. I will have to remember to ask her about it the next time I see her.

So, I’m trying to establish the habit of drinking more water. Very simple, you’d think, but it’s harder than I thought it would be. If I’m not vigilant, before I know it, I’m trying to drink 2-3 glasses at the end of the day – meaning I’ll be getting up in the middle of the night.

I won’t be having bloodwork done for another 11 months or so. My goal is to make a habit of drinking more water, but I will be sure to drink lots of water in the days before my blook is drawn. I’ll be curious to see how it affects the numbers.

Refill Prescriptions Before They Expire

prescriptionThis bit me in the butt, again. Aggghhh.

My daughter was prescribed a skin lotion in late March of last year, with six refills. Well, she wasn’t going through it nearly at that rate. In fact, I wasn’t sure if she was even routinely using it, since she’s off at school. It’s so much harder to keep track of this when a) it’s not your own medication, and b) when the person using the medication isn’t at home.

Of course, about 32 days after the prescription expired, after having only used 2 or 3 of the six refills she needs more. I was lucky and the doctor let us fill it again, with two additional refills.

I’ll make sure to use the refills as long as my daughter is using the lotion. In fact, I’ve put the prescription paperwork in my filing system so I won’t forget.

Cholesterol Spreadsheet

arteryI believe that you manage what you measure and I have spreadsheets for practically everything. This week I added one to keep track of my cholesterol. 😉

Since turning 50 I’ve tried to get in for a physical every year, including bloodwork. I’ve been particularly interested in my cholesterol since I started eating more low-carb (ie. high-fat) last year.

Indeed, my cholesterol went up from 214 last year to 229. And my LDL (bad) went from 117 to 138. However, my HDL (good) went from 68 to 76 and my triglycerides went from 145 to 76 – which is pretty dramatic and it might have to do with the fact that last year my bloodwork was non-fasting and this year it was fasting. From now on I’ll make sure to keep it consistently fasting.

Anyway, despite the increase in cholesterol and LDL, my ratios all improved and are, apparently, ideal. 🙂 Here are a couple of websites with cholesterol information and calculator:

My doctor, however, wants me to come in for a CIMT scan (Carotid Intima Media Thickness) to assess my vessels for plaque. I’m going to oblige her. My cholesterol is technically high and, although I believe my excellent ratios are indicative that everything’s good, I’d like confirmation regarding the state of my arteries. I hope I’m right!!

Scheduling Doctor Visits

doctorI take a couple of prescriptions on a regular basis. I order my meds through Express Scripts (Medco), which is much less expensive than going to my Safeway pharmacy. When I’m out of refills, Express Scripts automatically contacts my doctor for her to re-authorize the prescription. My current doctor has an annoying habit of making me come in for a visit in order to re-authorize any prescription. Of course, she isn’t actually available to see me. I see the physician’s assistant, which is just fine with me.

But, it bugs me to have to schedule an appointment and pay the copay just to get a refill on a medication that isn’t controlled, isn’t unusual, and something I’ve taken for 10+ years. It’s not like she doesn’t ever see me. I usually have to see her a couple of times/year for some kind of illness or issue. And, I’m good about getting in once/year for a physical and bloodwork. It seems unnecessary to have to come in for these additional visits. And, obviously, it’s up to me to manage it better.

So, when I was there yesterday, I asked them to check when I had my last physical. It was a year ago, April. They suggested I schedule another physical for May. But I’m going to schedule it for April, in just a few weeks. My existing prescriptions and refills should last almost until April of next year. I will make them last until then. And, in April of 2015, I’ll go in for my annual physical and I will have her re-authorize ALL my prescriptions at once and then I’ll never have to come in for a visit just to get a prescription authorized.

And I will do this every April.