• Posts Tagged ‘health’

    What Happens if I’m not happy with a Health Insurance Claim Decision?

    by  • August 19, 2014 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    There may come a time when you submit a health insurance claim and you’re not happy with the decision made by the insurance provider.  But what can you actually do about it?

    There are a number of reasons why an insurance provider might turn down your claim, such as insufficient need for treatment, or questions over whether the area of treatment is covered by your policy.  Whatever the reason it’s not ideal for you if you end up being presented with a large bill for treatment.

    Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act appealing a decision could be something of an unknown quantity. You might pick up a phone to call the provider and not even be aware that you’re actually starting a formal appeal process. This has all changed, as there are now procedures to be followed by all health insurance providers. You can learn more about the health insurance policies offered by HBF by following this link.

    What are these procedures?

    There are two types of appeal that are possible; internal appeal, and external review.  When an internal appeal takes place the insurance provider looks at the decision again and checks whether or not it is correct.  When an external review takes place the decision is considered by a third party who looks at whether the appeal decision was correct. There are procedures in place for both of these circumstances.

    Internal Appeal

    If you’ve received a decision that you’re unhappy with you need to appeal to the insurance provider within 6 months of receiving the original decision.  If you need help with the appeal you should speak to your local Consumer Assistance Program who can submit it for you.  To submit the appeal you need to either complete the forms your provider requires or write to them with your name, heath insurance id number, and the claim reference number.

    You should include anything that you want to be considered as part of the appeal, such as a doctor’s letter.  Remember that you should keep copies of all the documentation including the original decision, your appeal request and any supporting documentation.

    There are several different types of decision that you can appeal:

    • Benefit not covered by plan
    • Health care provider not in the plan’s network
    • Treatment not medically necessary
    • Claim irregularities

    Your appeal must be decided within 30 days if you’ve not yet received the treatment and within 60 days if you’ve already had the treatment.  The health insurance provider must give you their decision in writing.  If, after reconsidering your case, the provider still refuses your claim you can ask for an external review.

    External Review

    As for the internal appeal, there are procedures to follow for an external review.  You must submit your request in writing within 60 days of receiving the appeal decision.  Sometimes your plan will allow more time than this; you’ll need to check. The third party reviewer will then review the decision and provide you with a response within 60 days of your request.

    Who deals with your request depends on whether or not your state has a provision that complies with consumer protection requirements.  If they don’t then your review will be considered at federal level.

    Reached Your Deductible? Maximize Healthcare Expenses Before the New Year

    by  • November 20, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    pill box

    This sorta looks like my pillbox. Sorta.

    Due to an unfortunate stint in the emergency room this past summer, I single-handedly hit our health insurance deductible for the year. You know what that means? FREE STUFF!

    (well, not for my employer or the other people who are paying in this insurance plan, but I digress…)

    A few days ago I had my regular checkup with my psychiatrist who is managing the medication regimen that I use for depression. I’m pretty frank with my psychiatrist about money matters, so I always ask what’s the best way to get my money’s worth so that I can maximize my HSA dollars. I was down to my last few pills and was prescribed a 30 day supply of the medication (Wellbutrin, if you’re curious). My psychiatrist told me to fill my prescription ASAP so that I could get a “free” refill before the end of the year. How does that work, you ask?

    My insurance company will allow most prescriptions to be refilled every 28 days (or whenever there should be about 90% remaining). By filling my prescription before tomorrow (November 5), I will be able to refill my prescription twice for “free” (remember I hit my deductible for the year) since there are two 28-day intervals before January 1; the last dates that I’d be able to refill are December 3 and 31. If I refilled my prescription every 30 days starting November 5, I will have to refill my prescription on December 5 and January 2. In that scenario, the second time I refill my prescription would be in 2012, so I would have to pay out-of-pocket (minus the insurance discount). By refilling my prescription a little early, I’ll be getting my January allotment of pills for “free” since I will be refilling the prescription this calendar year.

    If you’ve hit your healthcare insurance deductible for this year, try to maximize your healthcare expenses before the year is up. You could potentially save a lot of money.

    image:  Dvortygirl

    This post was originally published on November 4, 2011. I was going to write pretty much the exact post but remembered this was in the archives.

    Cost-Effective Ways to Fight Mild/Moderate Depression

    by  • October 24, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    depression

    This feels about right.

    It’s no secret that I suffer from depression, sometimes major, sometimes moderate, sometimes mild. It was only a few years ago that I got actual medical help, and as it turns out, treatments can be quite expensive. In the past few years I’ve also read a lot of the medical literature on depression and have used myself as a guinea pig to gauge the effectiveness of some of the remedies. I’ll share with you some of the things that worked for me. Before I get into the list, I’ll add the caveat that these are most effective for mild or moderate depression; if you suffer from major depression, you’ll probably need some more powerful interventions.

    Generic antidepressants

    It’s no secret that generic equivalents to brand name medications can be just as effective and cost less. There’s a few ways you can save even more money: many pharmacies offer incentives of $25 to switch, shopping around may reveal one pharmacy that charges less than others, and you can use a mail-order pharmacy service. There is one catch with generics: sometimes they don’t work. This week it was found that generic buproprion (aka, Wellbutrin) made by Teva Pharmaceuticals was not equivalent to the brand-name drug. While this is definitely an exception and not the rule, it’s a risk one takes when saves a little money and switches to generic.

    Daylight therapy

    When I realized that my bouts of depression were worse in the winter than any other months, I realized that I may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically, my body and brain conspired against me and stopped making chemicals necessary for me to be a functioning human being. But I have learned that I can fight that with SCIENCE! I bought a daylight therapy lamp to use in the winter months. Make sure to follow the instructions as the light has to hit your eye in a specific manner for a good amount of time. I would do this in the morning and read the news on my laptop at the same time. But honestly, these days with a toddler around, it’s difficult to get up in the morning just to shine a light in my face. Which leads me to my next item…

    Sleep

    There’s a vicious cycle when it comes to sleep and depression. If I don’t get enough sleep, my mood worsens; because of my depression, I am often unable to get good sleep. Just like with kids, it helps to have a bedtime routine to follow so that I’m able to get my mind ready to sleep.  Like many things, it takes practice to get a good night of sleep, but a wealth of scientific data show that getting enough sleep is a Very Good Thing. A few weeks ago I was feeling AWESOME — I was sick and went to bed at 8 pm for four nights in a row. That was four nights of 10-hours of sleep! I got enough good sleep to get back on track sleeping well consistently and have been feeling better because of it.

    Exercise

    Now when I say exercise, I’m not always talking about putting on a leotard and hitting the gym for a good sweat session. Anything that raises heart rate and gets blood flowing for a good amount of time is ok. According to research, 30 minutes of moderate activity 3-5 days a week can do the trick…and it doesn’t all have to be done at the same time. Take three 10-minute walks a day. Play basketball in the morning and tennis at night. Have morning sex, a few quickies, evening sex, and, uh, however many sexytimes it takes to get to 30 minutes. You get the picture.

    Depression sucks and the answer to feeling better is often more than “hang out with friends” or “watch a funny movie.” There’s real changes going on with the central nervous system that are causing the malaise. It’s important to not be depressed to be able to fully participate in life. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    image: shattered.art66

    Running Our Way To Savings

    by  • March 9, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments


    Money Goal illustration

    Catch that bag with the dollar sign on it!

    image: HikingArtist.com

    My wife and I have recently started going for regular runs. We aren’t training for anything (yet), but we enjoy the fresh air and the activity. We relish the chance to switch up the routine in the evenings and come back home with a runner’s high. And, of course, we both like the idea of burning calories and promoting our long-term health in a way that only running can.

    But ultimately we are also running as a way to improve our savings and our finances.

    That’s right – running has been shown to correlate with higher degrees of effective money management, especially among hard-core participants of the sport. This is likely a result of qualities that are instilled in runners and then translate favorably into personal finance. Here are a few of the main ones:

    • Delayed gratification. People who are able to show restraint and delay their gratification have been shown to be better money-savers in the long term. And no activity teaches delayed gratification quite like running does. Anyone who has ever gasped their way through a mid-winter 45 minute run probably understands that few of the joys of running are realized until after the jaunt is complete.
    • Lower stress. Regular exercise contributes to lower stress levels, which in turn breed happier individuals. Moreover, happy people have been proven to make more prudent financial decisions. By running, then, my wife and I can boost both our mental health and our savings account at the same time.
    • Plans and promises. Few people can become regular runners without planning ahead, making commitments, and holding long-term goals. They may not want to head outside and embark on a run after a long day at work, but they realize that doing so is in their best long-term interests. Consequently, runners make a promise to themselves that they will remain committed in their training – a promise similar to the one couples make when they are looking to save for retirement.

    These are just a few of the main ways that running and saving go hand-in-hand. If you have the traits to be a dedicated runner, you likely also have what it takes to make smart financial decisions.

    And if you don’t have those traits, there’s no better way to start nurturing them than by lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run.

    My Life is Expensive to Insure

    by  • July 13, 2010 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    doctor.jpg

    (photo: The Doctr)

    Way back in the day when we were just newlyweds (or 18 months ago if you prefer), we came up with a list of things that we thought would be good to do since we’re now married. Surprisingly enough we managed to accomplish most of those things on the list. One task we decided to pursue almost immediately after we were married was to get life insurance.

    We did the responsible thing and reserached our options and talked to a bunch of different agents and got some quotes. We decided that we would get a 30-year term life insurnace plan for $750,000 for each of us. Whether you think we’re over-insured or should have gone with a whole-life plan, that’s not the point of this post.

    The point of this post is to tell you that my genes and medical history suck, especially when it comes to how they have affected my life insurance premiums.

    Life insurance premiums can vary depending on how you are classified. These classificications range from feel-good terms like "Premium-plus" or "premium" to the mediocre "standard" and finally the dreaded "Schedule __", where a letter goes into the blank. Your classification depends on how (un)healthly you are at the time that you are purchasing the insurance and your overall medical history.

    I’ve been candid about writing about my health on this blog – everything from losing weight, battles with depression, knee surgery, and high blood pressure. Apparanelty the insurance companies don’t like to see that I’ve been in the doctor’s office as much as I have been for my various ailments. In addition, a family history of diabetes and heart disease doesn’t bode well for me, either.

    As if my medical history wasn’t bad enough, I also get white coat hypertension, meaning that I get anxious when I get into a doctor’s office or when I know I’m going to get a medical check up, causing me to have temporary high blood pressure. So when the insurance company sent a person to do the at-home medical exam, my blood pressure was through the roof. Not good.

    The ironic part about all of this is that even though all of that was on my medical record, in the 2 years prior I had done the prudent thing and actually got treated for everything, and was the healthiest I’d ever been.

    At the end of this process, Her was classified as Premium-plus. Unfortunately, I had been classified as Schedule D. This means that we have the privelage of paying about $220 per month for health insurance. OUCH!

    I learned that I can get re-evaluated after 3 years, which I’m definitely going to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I can do anything about my past.

    The Best Investments In Myself

    by  • January 23, 2009 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    During these tough economic times, I have investments in something that has a high rate of return and little risk: ME. Fortunately, I started investing in myself before everything hit the fan; because of that I feel that I am in a good position to keep my job or even advance my career. Here’s two investments that I made in myself that has tangible financial rewards:

    Taking Classes

    I did not take advantage of our company’s tuition reimbursement benefit the first two years that I was employed. In hindsight, that was really dumb; I left $5,000 in educational expenses on the table.

    Eventually I decided to start using some of that benefit and enrolled in a certificate program that will put me in great position compared to my peers. I am almost finished with that and have started taking classes that are more broad in scope and will make me more versatile, like at http://financial.kaplan.co.uk.

    The total out-of-pocket cost of my classes comes out to less than $200 per year, or the amount that the tuition of the classes exceeds $2,500.

    These classes have had an immediate impact on my performance at my job. I have knowledge and skills that none of my peers have. I am able to work smarter and add value to my small company. I’m pretty sure that my 72.5% pay increase since I’ve started is due to my increased contributions to my workplace. If you are already working full time, it can be difficult to find the time to upgrade your education. After all, very few employers are going to want their employees missing time every week, even if it means they will be able to make a greater contribution in the future. There are options for these people, however, as online universities now offer a variety of different programs, so there is a good chance that you will be able to find yours somewhere. Just because you are unable to attend a university campus does not mean you have to give up on furthering your education.

    I just wish that they would reimburse me for the coffeehouse trips that I take when I study!

    Getting and staying healthy

    Since this blog began I’ve lost about 60 pounds. It all started when I had ACL knee reconstruction surgery. The events leading to that were directly related to me being overweight.

    The cost of losing and maintaining this weight and lifestyle is a little high. First, I had a gym membership for a while, but I recently quit the gym in favor of more home-friendly workouts. I am pretty active, but need goals like running a half-marathon or playing soccer to keep me motivated. My diet is now much healthier, but now without an initial hit to our wallet as I was working out the kinks.

    There have been numerous financial benefits to losing weight. First off, we didn’t have to buy a new bed to hold our fat asses. Last year, my doctor took me off high blood pressure medications and told me to see him once a year instead of twice. We’re currently in the process obtaining a life insurance policy and I’m sure that my new weight and lack of health problems will contribute to a more favorable rating, which will lead to a less expensive premium.

    Being healthy will also prevent future healthcare costs. I’m at a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease. I will also miss less days of work that I because of health problems.

    How are you investing in yourself? Are your investments going to benefit you financially?

    The Cost of NOT Running the Half-Marathon

    by  • August 11, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (and who hasn’t) you’d know that last year I ran my 1st half-marathon; I spent almost $500 on training and other associated costs in preparation for it. This year I signed up for another one and heeded the advice I received from the prior blog post, namely not buying so many sports drinks and using regular band-aids to protect my oh-so-sensitive nipples. The cost of the race was $55, and that included a tech shirt. Woo.

    I’ve been training mostly by myself for the past 3 months; I used much of the experience I obtained from last year and added fartleks and other speedwork so that I could improve my time from last year, along with helping me get faster for soccer.

    Then, last Sunday morning, I woke up with a stiff back, and a lot of generalized pain in my lower back. I stupidly went ahead and played soccer, thinking that the pain would go away after I warmed up. Not so – it ended up getting worse after the game. On Monday I could barely walk – we ended up driving to work and had to pay $16 for parking.

    After a steady regimen of ibuprofen and rest, my back seemed like it was getting better as the week went on. Until Friday, that is. It felt as worse as it did on the previous Monday. I decided I had enough and ended up calling my primary care physician to see if he could diagnose me and give me something for the pain. He diagnosed me with a sacroiliac joint strain, and prescribed me some pain meds, told me to take some OTC meds for pain and inflammation, heat treatment, and rest. I’m pretty sure that visit will cost me around $300, which of course will be paid with funds from my HSA. I ended up buying some OTC naproxen and some pain relieving patches, for a grand total of about $20.

    Yesterday morning was a picturesque Chicago summer day; cooler than usual, around 60F with a cool breeze. A perfect day to run a half-marathon, specicically the Chicago Distance Classic. Well, it would have been a good day to run 13.1 miles, but instead I was at home nursing a back injury.

    I can’t help but feel a little defeated that I couldn’t run; in my head I know that the 3 months of training helped me maintain my fitness and helped me reach new goals.

    It just sucks that I ended up paying almost $400 for a shirt.

    Depression is Expensive, Denial Much More So

    by  • May 14, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    I’m depressed.

    There, I said it. Not just depressed like in a bad mood or someone just kicked my puppy, but actually clinically depressed. This has actually been a recurrent theme in my life, and I suspect that it’s also tied in with Seasonal Affective Disorder as well, because this NEVERENDING CHICAGO WINTER has sucked the life out of me and the other few million Chicagoans around here. The thing that was different about this time is that it has never been as bad as it has been the past few months.

    Since this is a financial blog, I’ll go about how dealing with depression can affect one’s finances. Let me correct that: I’ll go about how trying to thwart depression by doing everything except getting treatment can affect one’s finances.

    One of the crappiest symptoms of depression is losing pleasure or interest at things that used to offer them normally. When I first started feeling pretty crummy, I thought to myself, “Maybe if I go out with friends/eat at a nice restaurant/buy myself something I’ve put off for a while now that I’ll feel better.” I actually chose all 3 of those routes: I went out with friends more, went out for more meals, and bought myself a used Nikon D200 and a nice new lens with my tax refund. I don’t even want to think about the amount of money I threw at the problem.

    A few months ago, Her and I agreed that my depression started to affect our relationship; there’s no money in the world that would be able to magically fix that. So I decided to go and see a therapist that I saw a few years back.

    Seeing the therapist isn’t cheap; when I saw her in prior years my out of pocket costs were about $75 a session, with the rest taken care of by my insurance company. Now that I have an HDHP/HSA I have to to take care of most of the fee out of my HSA account. Since there really wasn’t anything going on in my life that could have been causing my depressive state, I was referred to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist proceeded to prescribe an anti-depressant for me. Due to the way that payment is handled with the HDHP/HSA account, the costs of both seeing the psychiatrist and the meds will be revealed to me at a later time. I’ve just started on the meds, so only time will tell if this particular one is worth the money.

    Depression sucks. Other than the obvious joy-deflating and relationship straining properties, depression can have major financial ramifications as well. Therefore, if you’re feeling depressed or just not right, there’s no shame in going to a psychiatrist/therapist/someone who loves you to talk about it. My method of “self-medicating” by blowing all sorts of money got me nowhere (well, I do have a sweet camera). The depression also messed with my concentration and sleep, making it difficult to focus on my job, this blog, our finances, and my life in general. If went unchecked, a lot of stuff could possibly have been messed up.

    Right now I’m grateful for a few things: insurance for making all of this vastly possible without completely breaking the bank; the availability and acesss to great healthcare providers; and most importantly, Her, for sticking with me, offering her support, and remembering that we’re a team.

    The Cost of Playing Soccer

    by  • October 22, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    soccercat.jpg
    photo: Albirecks

    I first played soccer when I was just 6 years old; I continued to play regularly until high school, when the lure of girls and money from my part-time job seemed more important. I didn’t start playing regularly again until a few years ago when Her and I moved to Chicago. Except for recovering from some surgery, I’ve been playing regularly for the last 3 years. Here’s what I’ve had to spend to get back into soccer as an adult:

    Shin Guards -$10
    I see people who play without shin guards and it makes me cringe. I’ve seen these things costing as little as $5, and they generally last forever. I personally don’t feel as if there’s much difference between brands or models.

    Knee Brace – $30
    Since I got knee surgery, I thought I’d get a little insurance in the form of a knee brace. After reading the scientific literature though, the effectiveness of a knee brace in preventing injury is questionable. Even if there is no benefit to wearing one, psychologically I like having it on. I do suffer from a minor loss in flexibility, but it is a small price to pay for (supposed) injury prevention.

    Goalie gloves – $30
    I don’t play goalie every week, but there are times when I’m needed at this position. Gloves often come with a multitude of features, from padded knuckles for punching the ball to gecko-like gripping for catching. Regardless of features, just having gloves is an improvement versus playing bare-handed.

    Shoes – $40
    Just like with running, a good pair of shoes can go a long way in preventing injury and even enhancing performance. As with gloves, shoes can also come with a variety of features, from special cleats to additions that can help you “bend it like Beckham” (who will not be in the playoffs because of the L.A. Galaxy’s loss to the CHICAGO FIRE hahaha).

    Clothing – $60
    This includes socks and a goalie jersey. Both of those have very useful functions of providing comfort and preventing cuts and scrapes from falls or slides. I didn’t include shorts because I wear the ones I bought for running.

    League fees – $280/year
    This is by far the most expensive – actually being able to play. I play four seasons with my team – spring, early summer, late summer, and fall. The cost to enter a team per season is usually around $1200, so I end up paying around $70/season.

    Getting back into soccer is one of the best things that I have done in my current post-college days. I’ve met new friends, have a lot of competitive fun, and have another reason to stay in shape. All of the equipment costs of the are one time costs, so playing more helps me get the most out of it.

    Paying For Weight Loss is Paying Off

    by  • August 8, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    This year I spent about $150 to join Weight Watchers, and that has helped me to lose about 10 pounds in 6 weeks. I know, I know, losing weight is just about eating less and exercising more. But previously, I was never successful at losing more than 5 pounds on my own. Without a comprehensive plan it was like playing whack-a-mole at mealtime. I consider this to be some of the best money I have ever spent on anything! I have learned a lot of new good habits that I can use forever. I am also using the gym regularly now, so I’m getting good value out of my gym membership. Losing weight has proved to be expensive, but it is finally paying off. I feel great!

    The Cost of The Half-Marathon

    by  • August 1, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    ING RUN

    Running a half-marathon can be costly.

    This summer our posting has been pretty low-key due to all of our extracurricular activities. I’ve personally been occupied with training for an upcoming half-marathon. Little did I know of the associated costs with training for a 13-mile jaunt. While running is one of the most cost-effective ways of staying in shape, long-distance running (at least for me) requires a little more than just a good pair of shoes. Here are the associated costs for 12 weeks of training for the half-marathon.

    Shoes – $75

    I’m an overpronator – meaning my feet roll outward too much when I push off. In order to get my feet in alignment, prevent injury, and maximize efficiency, I need a good pair of running shoes. If you’re looking for the perfect shoe for you, go to a specialty running store where the people there can watch you run and get you properly.

    Moisture Wicking T-shirts, Underwear, and Socks – $150 total

    These pieces of clothing wick away moisture to keep me cool and dry. Cotton sticks to my skin and doesn’t breathe well when soaked in sweat. Target and Wal-Mart and great places to get these for cheap.

    Sports Drinks – $8/week X 12 weeks = $96

    Essential for putting back carbs, electrolytes, and fluids into my body before and after a run. I don’t drink this stuff any other time.

    Sport Beans – $15

    I eat Sport Beans during runs over 6 miles. I find that I just run out of energy near the finish if I don’t have any during-run nutrition. I’ve also tried other products, but these seem to work best for me. They’re $1 a a bag at Target.

    Body Glide – $10

    Body glide is like mana from heaven. Prevents chafing. Saves lives, cures cancer. Or not.

    Nipguards – $10

    Never in my life would I ever think that I would need any form of nipple protection. Then I experienced nipple chafing associated with long runs. For the love of god did they hurt. Then I found out about Nipguards. Slightly weird, but at least my nips don’t hurt.

    Race registration – $45

    I need one of these to run the race.

    Race training – $90

    Since I’m a beginner, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a training program that would connect me with other runners. Turns out this was a pretty good decision, as I’ve found a group that is going though all of the rookie stuff that I’m going though. They’re also a huge asset for my motivation. Who wants to run 12-miles all my themselves?

    TOTAL COST – $491

    Much of this cost isn’t just going to be for this one activity only – the running shoes should last another 6 months and possible another 5K race. The moisture wicking stuff I’ll keep for at least a few years. Plus I’ve gained some running buddies from the race training.

    <rationalization>

    Besides, the health benefits that I’m getting from all this running should pay off in future reduced healthcare costs, right?

    </rationalization>

    Keeping Up With The Jones’s Surgery

    by  • May 5, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Everyone has heard the cliché of keeping up with the Jones’s, but this week we experienced a pretty odd example: Inspired by Him, our neighbor just got the same surgery today! It all started when we went out to brunch with the neighbors a few weeks ago. Him told them about his knee injury and the surgery he was scheduled to have. Turns out, our neighbor suffered a similar injury many years ago. At that time, the surgery was much more invasive and the doctor advised our neighbor to just make do with the injury. When we told our neighbor about the new surgery options available, he decided to have the same procedure as Him! Even though it’s an outpatient surgery, it’s not a walk in the park. I think tomorrow we’ll stop by with a care basket for him.

    I wonder…What would happen if we bought a big shiny new SUV and parked it in the driveway? ;)

    Recovering From Surgery

    by  • April 17, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    During the past week I’ve endured the one-two punch of medical malaise, hence the lack of posts from me. The first was a pretty bad case of food poisoning that I got while traveling on business in Seattle last weekend. The second was a knee ACL reconstruction surgery that I had done last Wednesday.

    Fortunately, my recovery is going extremely well, and I should be back to work later this week. The first few days after surgery were a little shaky, with me having a fever and the effects of the anesthesia and food poisoning leaving me quite nauseated for a few days, making it was difficult to get calories into my body. The weekend was great in that the fever subsided and I had real food for the first time in a week — even a full Easter dinner.

    Her did a great job posting as much as she did and generally keeping the site running. Expect some posts from me now that I’m, uh, back on my feet. Pun intended.

    Cheap Sex

    by  • January 19, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Sex is fun, and even more so when it’s cheap. We use the birth control pill to stay safe and get giftcards. Yep, giftcards! A lot of pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, Dominick’s, Target, and Kmart are some in our area) are in competition with each other and are offering coupons for a free gift card (ranging from $10 to $25) with each new or transferred prescription you fill at their pharmacy. The coupons come in weekly mailings, the Sunday paper, and coupons that print with your receipt. If you can’t find them you can always buy them on ebay for a couple bucks each. So every month we refill my prescription at a different store and earn a giftcard for that store. In the last year we’ve accumulated over $200 in giftcards from my prescription purchases! Cheap sex rocks.

    The cost of good health

    by  • January 3, 2006 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Our recent engagement spurred both of us to look inward not only financially, but physically, too. During the course of our relationship, we settled into the “comfort zone” and stopped taking care of ourselves, and put on a few pounds. Ugh. So we started working out — not just a New Year’s resolution, but also a wedding resolution.

    My fiancée already has a health club membership, but wasn’t using it. She got a discounted membership through her work — they prepaid the full yearly amount, and that balance is paid back as a deduction from her paycheck. I became a full member at the same discounted rate a few days before the new year. For me to gate that rate of $699 a year, I had to pay the full amount upfront. As per our first post, we didn’t have much in our checking account, but we had that amount in our ING Direct savings account. The health club urged us to lock in that rate before the new year because they were getting new rates after the new year. So we ended up putting the membership on one of our credit cards with no balance on it. We’ll pay it off when we get the bill. Now we both go, with the goal of at least three times a week.

    $699 a year, or $58.25 a month for a health club membership. In our current financial situation, this may have seemed like a really bad financial decision. But if we actually do go at least three times a week like we want to, that will lead to greater health. The costs of obesity and related conditions is almost $100 billion dollars yearly; not a good sign when my my body fat composition is 27% — a far cry from the ideal 15-20% body fat that a healthy man my age should be.

    I also have hypertension, which I treat with a medication that, luckily for me, only costs $7/month. Others don’t get better when they take the medication that I am on; their medications can be $50+/month. Hopefully, losing weight will allow me to be able to get off the medication.

    How much is your health worth?