Sunday, January 23, 2011

Workin' the system to make it work - a.k.a. saving money

So I decided to publish how much this is costing - which is more money than I have ever spent on me.  I am cheap.  Frugal.  Scrooge-like when it comes to buying things for myself.

As an example I went shopping the other night and was completely joyed when I found a necklace for $6 that matched the same color as a pair of shoes on sale for $5.  This is all to pair with a dress I got on clearance at target for $15.  I bargain hunt, clip coupons and wait for sales. I rarely splurge, we don't usually go on fancy vacations and I don't put any money into things that add up over time.  (Starbucks habits, mani/pedis, stylists, purses etc.)  This is what I have had to do over time because for so many years of my adult life I have been in school or making minimum wage as a resident.

So of course naturally I find it hard to wrap around the idea that I am injecting myself with medication every night that not only costs more than the outfit above but that adds up to be A LOT of money over time.

But I have come to terms that this process is expensive, and if it works will be worth every penny.  I certainly have more income than I had even a few years ago, but there is a lot of financial things to catch up on as well.  (student loans, no retirement savings etc)

So what I have tried to do over time was to apply that same sense of discounts to the process and here are some of the things that I have had success with so far: (None of this is advice - believe me doctors are horrible with money - these are simply things that have worked for me)

1) FLEXIBLE HEALTH CARE SPENDING - in late 2009 I knew that we would be facing infertility treatments or a pregnancy so I put aside about $200 a month and by the end of the year had a nice little way to pay for follistim.  Can't do this for 2011 because I have NO way to estimate this but I think in 2011 we will be itemizing deductions anyway - but I AM keeping all my receipts because if I go over a certain amount on healthcare I can get it tax-free!

2) ACUPUNCTURE - I get it by a student and go to my local oriental medicine college.  Being a product of hands-on-training I believe in the system and always feel like I get good attention by the student and the instructor.  It comes out to $38 a session plus herbs.

3) INSURANCE - When I signed up for my benefits I specifically looked into infertility coverage and selected the only plan with any type of coverage.  (And I pay a lot extra for it) According to their benefits they cover 50% of medications only.  Interestingly I can get my follistim from a local independent pharmacy for about $250 compared to most chain pharmacies where it is high 300's- low 400s but in order for my insurance to pay anything I need to be preauthorized and go though a "contracted pharmacy".  Once I found a good contracted pharmacy I was getting each vial for $191 (after insurance) but then my insurance changed their mind, cancelled my rx and I was forking over out of pocket for a while.  I have now found that they will let me go though a mail-order pharmacy for about $180 per vial - but I have to order in advance.  Dealing with the artificial roadblocks put up by my insurance company have been a nightmare and I have spent more hours on the phone than I can count but eventually you get a clue from someone on how to get things approved.  Insurance is also paying for part of the ultrasounds currently because no matter how it is coded it is considered a diagnostic procedure which is partially covered as well.  (although I am waiting for them to realize it and reject me).

4) SHOPPING AROUND - I called every major and minor pharmacy in the area and looked into mail-order.  I compared prices on follistim for all the different sized vials.  Let me tell you that there can be a huge difference.  Even if its just $20 savings it adds up to $100 for a cycle.  I still pay for ovridel out of pocket so there was a little savings there.

5) INTRODUCTORY COUPON - I actually used a coupon for a free vial during each cycle for the first 2 cycles through the follistim manufacturer.  They only give it to you for 2 but thats still several hundred buckaroos.  I got it though my RE and a pharmacy that contracts though the company - I would have never found this on my own.

6)  CHEAP PREGNANCY TESTS - and LH kits can be found online by googling.  The are more difficult to use than drugstore brands but WAAAYYY cheaper.  (I found them for about 40 cents each)

7) KEEPING MYSELF THIN - This sounds funny but I lost about 15 lb to get married but knowing that it helps ovulation I didn't allow it to come back on.  With PCOS, weight is important, and keeping mine down is probably allowing me to use less of the follistim than I otherwise would.  So I am on a constant food watch and exercising several times a week. (This also allows me to look decent in $15 dresses. )  I will admit that this is the HARDEST thing I have done, by far.

8) EMPLOYEE DISCOUNT - just kidding.  The hospital I work for is too money grubbing to give me any discount.  They are looking for every penny out of me.  I offered to do my ultrasounds but that didn't fly with my RE.  So other than figuring out what I did as above, there is no benefit to being a gynecologist.

So those are my ideas - I would be interested in hearing anybody else's comments about what has worked for them - and if you work for an insurance company please don't go looking for ways to save money for your company by cutting me off.



  1. $15 dress! I'm proud of you! I love Target. I also love the visual image of someone giving herself an ultrasound. : )

  2. I know a lot of people online who buy ovridel from freedom pharmacy and have it shipped. I believe it's around $45.

  3. I like the idea of offering to do your own ultrasounds! Seems reasonable to me!

    (The word verification was "walmize" which somehow seems like a good reference to a post about optimizing prices...)

  4. I LOVE bargain hunting...too bad we can't do more in our quest for parenthood!

    I did have to your own ultrasounds...I knew you meant having someone do them for you, but my mind went to a contortionist type of set up :)

  5. These are great suggestions-appreciate it. Found your blog through Rebecca's awards-I'm a former high risk OB/GYN nurse-I worked for the author of principles of maternal fetal medicine for years...and of course, now I can't get pregnant.

  6. I just came across your blog. I had no idea you could get acupuncture through a training college! Fortunately I live in a large metro area, so I checked and sure enough we have one here!!! Looks like its only $37 per session. I'm super psyched!!! My last appt ended up costing a lot more than I was expecting. Thanks for sharing the info!

    Good luck on your journey!