You Have the Power to Reduce Your Healthcare Costs

Regardless of whether you have the best possible health insurance, a middle-of-the-road plan, or no plan at all, healthcare costs are a continuing concern for the American family. Healthcare expenses continue to rise while wages have remained stagnant. As a result, healthcare costs (insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays), are eating up a larger portion of the family budget now than ever before.

In fact, the average family spends about 10 percent of its annual income on healthcare-related expenses; up from 6.5 percent just a decade ago.

While it may seem there’s nothing an individual or family can do about it, there is. And if enough people take these steps, we just might be able to get healthcare costs under control.

1. Talk to your doctor about the necessity of the proposed test or procedure.

Whether you are concerned about costs or not, this is always a good discussion to have with your provider. You should never have a test or procedure without being completely clear about why it’s necessary and how it will benefit you. There’s nothing wrong with asking about alternatives that may be just as effective and less expensive.

2. Review your insurance coverage.
If you have commercial or government-sponsored insurance, it’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage to determine whether the test/procedure will be covered and under what circumstances. If it’s unclear, call your insurance company or talk to your human resources department to verify coverage. Ensure that any pre-certification requirements are met. Most physician offices will take care of this for you, but it’s always a good idea to ask. More importantly, make sure all of the providers who will be involved in your care are “in-network.” It’s a pretty unpleasant surprise to receive a balance bill for an out-of-network provider when you thought everything was taken care of.

3. Ask how much it will cost. 
It can be extremely difficult to get a definitive answer from hospital billing departments, benefits managers and even insurance companies. Don’t trust that online cost calculator, either! Talk to a person and take notes. Keep asking until you are quoted a price. Be sure to record who told you what it would cost and when the quote was given. You may need this when bills start arriving later. The ideal situation? Work with a provider that can tell you exactly what the cost will be – and guarantee it – without hassle or uncertainty. Lexington Diagnostic Center is one such facility. LDC patients know up front what their total cost will be, with no surprises later on.

4. Don’t assume prices are the same from one provider to the next. 
They aren’t. When it comes to medical imaging, for example, hospital costs are two to three times higher than those charged by a free-standing imaging center, such as Lexington Diagnostic Center. That’s because hospitals have to carry a lot of overhead for things like the cafeteria, laundry and even the Emergency Department. Because imaging is all they do, Lexington Diagnostic Center doesn’t have those expenses to pass along. At LDC, patients pay for imaging services. That’s it. Why does this matter? Even if you have a Cadillac health plan, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a co-insurance. Would you rather pay 20 percent of $2,000, or 20 percent of $800?

5. Ask about fees over and above the actual hospital charges.
If you’re having a lab test, an imaging study or even surgery, you’ll receive bills from more organizations than the hospital. Understanding this concept is important. When it comes to diagnostic imaging, for example, a hospital imaging department will send you its bill (the technical component) and the radiologist, who reads and interprets the exam, will send you another bill (the professional fee). When a hospital quotes their price, it is only for the technical component. The radiologist’s fee is separate. At Lexington Diagnostic Center, our price includes both the technical component and the professional fee. You never receive a bill later for the doctor who read the exam.

Lexington Diagnostic Center has been helping patients and families in Lexington and surrounding areas save on healthcare costs for more than 30 years. Medical imaging is all we do – and we do it extremely well.

Next time your doctor orders a medical imaging exam for you – MRI, CT, Ultrasound, – tell him or her you prefer Lexington Diagnostic Center. We are conveniently located at 1725 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 100. For more information, please give us a call at (859) 278-7226.

Take a look inside: Nuclear Medicine Studies

Nuclear medicine studies and therapy for thyroid gland are both common procedures performed at LDC.

When we think radioactivity, our minds naturally go to nuclear weapons or power plants. We all know radiation is DANGEROUS. But we rarely think about its beneficial uses, especially when it comes to medicine.

But radioactivity is the energy behind one of the most useful diagnostic imaging modalities in use today: nuclear medicine. The modality is unlike any other medical imaging technique because it allows the physician to see how organs, tissues and bones function at the cellular level. Even the most powerful MRI cannot do that.

How does it work?
Radioactive isotopes – called tracers – are introduced into the body either through an injection or orally. These tracers make their way to the part of the body being studied. Interestingly, there are about 20 different radioactive isotopes that can be used and each of these tends to be attracted to certain body systems. For example, iodine-125 tends to go to the thyroid gland, making it very helpful in diagnosing hyper- and hypothyroidism.

As the tracer makes its way to the system being studied, a special camera that measures gamma radiation, records how the system processes (uptakes) the tracer. Based on these studies, the physician can determine whether the organ or system is functioning normally on a cellular level.

Nuclear medicine is useful in diagnosing a wide array of conditions affecting the bones, heart, lungs, liver and many other internal organs.

Is it safe?
Despite a 70-year track record as a safe diagnostic tool, patients sometimes express concern about a nuclear medicine study. It’s not uncommon for patients to ask – jokingly – if they will “glow” after the exam. The short answer: No.

The amount of radiation the patient receives during a nuclear medicine study is typically quite low: usually less than that received during a routine x-ray and significantly less than that received during a CT scan.

There are three primary reasons for this. First, only a minute amount of tracer is required to capture nuclear medicine images. Tracers degrade quickly. And the body excretes them naturally, usually within 24 hours. Patients are able to resume their normal daily activities immediately following a nuclear medicine study with few restrictions. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to flush the tracer from the body.

What is nuclear medicine used to diagnose?
We’ve already discussed its use in diagnosing thyroid conditions. Here are some other ways nuclear medicine studies can help your physician:

Heart
• visualize heart blood flow and function
• detect coronary artery disease
• assess damage to the heart following a heart attack
• evaluate the results of revascularization procedures
• detect heart transplant rejection
• evaluate heart function before and after chemotherapy

Bones
• evaluate bones for fractures, infection and arthritis
• evaluate for metastatic bone disease
• evaluate painful prosthetic joints
• evaluate bone tumors
• identify sites for biopsy

Brain
• investigate abnormalities in the brain in patients with seizures, memory loss and suspected abnormalities in blood flow
• detect the early onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease
• assist in surgical planning and localize seizure foci
• evaluate for abnormalities in a chemical in the brain involved in controlling movement in patients with suspected Parkinson’s disease or related movement disorders
• evaluation for suspected brain tumor recurrence, surgical or radiation planning or localization for biopsy

Because nuclear medicine scans show function, they are very good at finding problems early in the course of a disease. Other modalities can determine the extent of the problem after physical change has occurred, but they cannot capture the damage in process.

If your physician or provider orders a nuclear medicine study for you – don’t worry. You won’t glow and it won’t hurt. But it will provide incredibly valuable information to your doctor that he or she can use to properly diagnose and treat your condition.

The experts at Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI performs a wide variety of nuclear medicine studies, including bone scans, liver/spleen studies, renal scans, bone marrow imaging, white blood cell imaging, gastric emptying, thyroid/parathyroid, and tumor scans.

For more information about nuclear medicine studies at
Lexington Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, call the office at
(859) 278-SCAN (7226).

You have the power to reduce your healthcare costs

Regardless of whether you have the best possible health insurance, a middle-of-the-road plan, or no plan at all, healthcare costs are a continuing concern for the American family. Healthcare expenses continue to rise while wages have remained stagnant. As a result, healthcare costs (insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays), are eating up a larger portion of the family budget now than ever before.

In fact, the average family spends about 10 percent of its annual income on healthcare-related expenses; up from 6.5 percent just a decade ago.

While it may seem there’s nothing an individual or family can do about it, there is. And if enough people take these steps, we just might be able to get healthcare costs under control.

  1. Talk to your doctor about the necessity of the proposed test or procedure.

Whether you are concerned about costs or not, this is always a good discussion to have with your provider. You should never have a test or procedure without being completely clear about why it’s necessary and how it will benefit you. There’s nothing wrong with asking about alternatives that may be just as effective and less expensive.

  1. Review your insurance coverage.

If you have commercial or government-sponsored insurance, it’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage to determine whether the test/procedure will be covered and under what circumstances. If it’s unclear, call your insurance company or talk to your human resources department to verify coverage. Ensure that any pre-certification requirements are met. Most physician offices will take care of this for you, but it’s always a good idea to ask. More importantly, make sure all of the providers who will be involved in your care are “in-network.” It’s a pretty unpleasant surprise to receive a balance bill for an out-of-network provider when you thought everything was taken care of.

  1. Ask how much it will cost.

It can be extremely difficult to get a definitive answer from hospital billing departments, benefits managers and even insurance companies. Don’t trust that online cost calculator, either! Talk to a person and take notes. Keep asking until you are quoted a price. Be sure to record who told you what it would cost and when the quote was given. You may need this when bills start arriving later. The ideal situation? Work with a provider that can tell you exactly what the cost will be – and guarantee it – without hassle or uncertainty. Lexington Diagnostic Center is one such facility. LDC patients know up front what their total cost will be, with no surprises later on.

  1. Don’t assume prices are the same from one provider to the next.

They aren’t. When it comes to medical imaging, for example, hospital costs are two to three times higher than those charged by a free-standing imaging center, such as Lexington Diagnostic Center. That’s because hospitals have to carry a lot of overhead for things like the cafeteria, laundry and even the Emergency Department. Because imaging is all they do, Lexington Diagnostic Center doesn’t have those expenses to pass along. At LDC, patients pay for imaging services. That’s it. Why does this matter? Even if you have a Cadillac health plan, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a co-pay. Would you rather pay 20 percent of $2,000, or 20 percent of $800?

  1. Ask about fees over and above the actual hospital charges.

If you’re having a lab test, an imaging study or even surgery, you’ll receive bills from more organizations than the hospital. Understanding this concept is important. When it comes to diagnostic imaging, for example, a hospital imaging department will send you its bill (the technical component) and the radiologist, who reads and interprets the exam, will send you another bill (the professional fee). When a hospital quotes their price, it is only for the technical component. The radiologist’s fee is separate. At Lexington Diagnostic Center, our price includes both the technical component and the professional fee. You never receive a bill later for the doctor who read the exam.

Lexington Diagnostic Center has been helping patients and families in Lexington and surrounding areas save on healthcare costs for more than 30 years. Medical imaging is all we do – and we do it extremely well.

Next time your doctor orders a medical imaging exam for you – MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine Study – tell him or her you prefer Lexington Diagnostic Center. We are conveniently located at 1725 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 100. For more information, please give us a call at (859) 278-7226.

Affordable, Effective, Lung Cancer Screening & What to Know

It should come as no surprise that Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer deaths, especially when you consider another dubious distinction the Commonwealth holds: the highest smoking rates in the nation. Having a low-dose CT lung cancer screening is the best way to detect lung cancer early.

The criteria for the screening are strict, but are based in medical research:

• be between the ages of 55 and 80 (Medicare coverage to age 77 only) and in good enough health to withstand potential treatment for cancer, should something be found.
• have a 30-year pack history of smoking. A 30-year pack history means the patient smoked about a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years, and so on.
• may currently smoke, or may have quit smoking less than 15 years ago. Congrats – after 15 years as a non-smoker, former smokers are no longer considered to be high risk!

Lexington Diagnostic Center has been performing low-dose CT screenings for lung cancer for over a decade and the screening at Lexington Diagnostic Center is very affordable. Because imaging is the focus of their business, they keep costs low and pass the savings on to our patients. LDCT screening at Lexington Diagnostic Center can be hundreds of dollars less expensive than a screening performed at a local hospital.

Talk with your primary care provider about low-dose CT screening for lung cancer and let them know you want to go to Lexington Diagnostic Center for testing. You may give LDC a call at 859-278-7226, or contact their website at LexingtonDiagnostic.com.

Lung Cancer Screening

Low Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening
Dr. George W. Privett, Jr.

In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we should be reminded that Kentuckians have the highest rate of death from lung cancer in the United States. Most lung cancers cause no symptoms until they are too large to be successfully treated.

Lung Cancer is a dreaded diagnosis, particularly when it is discovered after it has already spread throughout the body. What can you do to lower your risk of early death from Lung Cancer? There are two things: 1. STOP SMOKING! and 2. Get a screening test for early detection.

Discovering a screening test that would effectively diagnose this disease before it spreads and would make a cure possible has not been easy. Chest X-rays and sputum analysis for malignant cell have been tried in the past without success.

Fortunately, the CT Scan became available. The CT (or Computed Tomography) scanner takes images of the lungs by spinning an X-ray tube around a patient lying on a bed. By using a powerful computer program, detailed images of the lung are obtained that can detect lung tumors as small as 2 mm. No injections or dyes are needed and the test takes less than 10 minutes. In addition and at no extra charge, other structures in the chest such as the aorta, spine, lymph nodes, heart and ribs are imaged.

We have been providing Low Dose Screening Lung CT for 10 years. However, it was only recently that a large study confirmed what we had suspected – a CT Screening is very effective at reducing deaths in high risk patients by detecting lung cancers early when they are still curable. (As an aside, Screening Lung CT is much more effective than Screening Mammograms and Screening PSA for prostate cancer.)

What is High Risk? High Risk is defined in patients are those who are 55 to 74 years of age who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years (or two packs per day for 15 years, etc.). If a tumor is found, then the patient will need additional tests and possibly a biopsy to determine if it is a cancer or something benign.

Because a spiral CT scan is so detailed, it is possible that something will show up on the exam that is not cancer (false positive) and additional necessary testing may be costly and lead to side-effects. There is also slight risk due to radiation exposure; however, modern screening is performed with low dose techniques to minimize the exposure.

Currently Anthem covers this Screening Lung CT, and because of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) all other commercial carriers must cover it by January 1, 2015. Medicare will decide if it is going to cover the Screening in November 2014. Low Dose CT may cost as much as $500 in some hospital based centers. For patients without insurance, the current cash price at Lexington Diagnostic Center is $169, and this includes the radiologist charge.

Remember, most lung cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early. If you are at high risk for lung cancer you should consider Low Dose CT Lung Screening, especially if you meet the following criteria:
• Age 55 to 74
• Current or past smoker
• 30 pack-year history of smoking
And no matter what your risk is…..If you are a smoker, stop!