You Healthcare Costs

You Healthcare Costs


On November 12, 2008, 6 News and held a live online discussion to answer questions about healthcare costs. The following is a transcription of that discussion.

Focus on the Economy: Fighting Back (11/12/2008) Powered by:CoveritLive
WATE: 6 News wants to help you get through the current economic crisis. Each day this week, 6 News is assembling a group of experts in our studio from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. They are available to answer your questions by phone and here in this live online discussion at This special effort, "Focus on the Economy: Fighting Back," will tackle a different subject each day. Today's subject is healthcare costs.
WATE: We will attempt to answer as many questions we can and cover as many topics as possible. For that reason, it will be helpful if you can keep your questions brief and to the point.
WATE: With us today is Dr. Warren Sayre, a family physician with Summit Medical Group.
WATE: Let's start off tonight with a question submitted earlier by email. Frank says: will be unemployed by the end of the year. will loose health insurance at this time only income at this time will be unemployment insurance. am on insulin and other medication Dr. Sayre, what would someone in Frank's situation do to manage healthcare costs?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Frank, that sounds like a real challenge. First, I would say try to see your physician as close to the end of the year as you can to make sure all labs and medicines are up to date. Secondly you might look into some of Knoxville's programs for people with low income and no insurance like Interfaith Health Clinic. I'll get the number and post it in a minute.
Dr. Warren Sayre: The number for Interfaith is 865.531.2766. Often times your doctor is more concerned about your health than getting full payment. Most of us have discounted visits for uninsured or will set up payment plans to help. Paying for meds is another problem altogether.
[ Justin] When looking for health insurance on a tight budget. What is the most important factor?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Justin: complicated question. I would say depends on your current health status. If you're a pretty healthy person who rarely goes to the hospital, it may be well worth it to stay with a high deductible plan that covers preventative care rather than a low deductible plan that is really expensive. If you take alot of medicines or have alot of chronic problems, it may be worth it to pay for the low deductible.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Seeing the rising cost of healthcare, has anyone been inspired to make healthier choices like losing weight or parking farther away from work to get in a good walk? Just curious to know if anyone has chosen to be more proactive with their health to prevent health problem?
[ Max] My insurance deductible is going up next year to $2,000. I normally go to my doctor's office once or twice a year and take one prescription that's not available as a generic. How will this new deductible affect me?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Do you know if your prescription costs go toward your deductible? Alot of times they don't.
Dr. Warren Sayre: I'm not an insurance or finance guru, but I do encourage people to work on an emergency fund in place when they have a high deductible like this. $500 is a good goal, but ideally you would try to save the amount of your deductible. Easier said than done.
[ Max] I don't know if prescription costs go toward the deductible but I'd like to have an emergency fund. Unfortunately, it's not possible at this time. However, thanks for your advice.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Find out how much your doctors visit usually costs. At least you could start saving towards that. A few dollars a wk make it alot easier when you get the big hit. Also, bargain with your doctor's office on a discount if you pay that in full at the time of visit.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Worried about the cost of your prescription meds? Certainly the trying to go generic is worth the try. There are also different assistance programs available. Most are based on your income/financial situation. Take a look at the Pfizer assistance website. It talks about several programs:
[ Dianne] I just recently got on disability. I have medicare A & B. I am 61 yrs. old. I'm confused as to what I should do about getting a health supplement plan for my meds and for what medicare will not pick that I can easily afford. But with so many out there I don't know what would be cheapest and the best coverage.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Dianne: Boy is this a tough question. On a personal level, I went through this trying to help my grandmother find the best plan for her. I'm still confused. The medicare part D site has 49 listings for part D plans in TN. That said, I would talk with your pharmacist about the programs they've seen that have good coverage. They can look at your med list and tell you based on the meds what would be most cost effective.
[ Diane] I have recently moved to TN from IN where my health insurance is being paid by my business up north. However, the premiums are escalating and I have been denied coverage twice. Is there any where that I can apply for health insurance here?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Diane: If you are employed here and meet requirements (income related) you might qualifiy for CoverTN ( To qualify for Tenncare (our version of medicaid), you have to have a few quotes or letters of denial from private insurance companies. You'd have to get the full details on the Tenncare website. Hope that helps.
[ billy] i get a shot every week for allergies, but my insurance will change at the first of the year and i don't think i'll be covered for them. what can i do? is it okay to skip them? is there something i can to make it easier to skip the shots?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Some insurances do not pay for allergy shots, but most do. I'd check with your new insurance and make sure you push the issue. Don't take the first "No" as the final answer. You can stop the shots, but allergy symptoms can worsen. Are you already taking allergy meds in addition to the shots?
[ billy] no, but i used to take zirteck
Dr. Warren Sayre: I haven't seen any assistance programs for this, but the health dept tends to be cheaper than your regular doctor. If you're paying OOP, bargain with them! It never hurts to ask.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Zyrtec is OTC now, and that would help with your symptoms. (Cetirizine is the generic). It's not that cheap, but it's a good antihistamine. Saline nasal spray also helps and is dirt cheap.
WATE: We're almost out of time tonight. We have some questions waiting, and we'll try to get to all of them.
[ Kim] You mentioned the patient asisstance programs for prescription medications, is there anything to help with some of these higher priced vaccines?
Dr. Warren Sayre: Angela: You are the people I hope we can find a good solution for in the next 3-4 yrs. I don't have a good answer for you other than to say, if you need healthcare on an ongoing basis Interfaith Healthcare may be a good option for you. Number there is 865.531.7330. They have a fee schedule. Many doctors in our group will set a payment plan for uninsured folks to. Check out to find someone close to you.
[ Angela] My husband owns his own business, but did not make a profit last year. I am an employee of his and made $13,000.00 last year. We were recently booted off TennCare spend down and CoverTN says he is not eligible because he didn't make enough money and has an employee. Where do I turn next?
WATE: Sorry, Angela. Dr. Sayre posted an answer to you before I posted your question. I hope that wasn't too confusing.
Dr. Warren Sayre: Shirley: Unfortunately, almost all the assistance programs will not apply when you have medicare. Ask your rheumatologist if medicare part B pays for this injectable. Sorry that med is soooo expensive!
[ Angela] Not at all, what is confusing is all the insurance mess and hoping and praying that my husband and I both stay healthy enough to work, as we don't live from paycheck to paycheck, we live from customer to customer
WATE: We have time for just one more question.
[ JTH] I am a recovering drug addict (clean 13 months) I need a therapist, anti-depressant, and suboxone because I am having obsessive thoughts. I am unemployed, have no money, no insurance. Are there any programs that can help me. I applied for ten-care, (my appointment is tomorrow to see if I get it) If I don't get this help I know its just a matter of time before I relapse. What can I do?
[ Kim] Thank you
Dr. Warren Sayre: JTH: Congrats on being clean for 13 months! That's huge. Hopefully you will qualify for TNcare, but that may still take some time to get into a good program. If you feel you are in acute need, most local ERs have a number for Mobile Crisis Unit. Suboxone is a tough one. I don't know if even TNcare is paying for this tx and it's really expensive to pay for a program. Best of luck with your health issue. One day at a time.
WATE: Thank you for joining our discussion tonight. We'll be back again tomorrow from 5:00 to 6:30 when our topic will be housing costs.
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