Nacogdoches hospitals busy as benefit deadlines approach

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When the Christmas decorations are pulled out, day surgery facilities know to expect a bigger patient load. Extra nurses are brought in. Surgery schedules fill up an entire day. No one wants to get behind. In many cases, the need for a hectic pace can be traced back to the patients.

"Because they realize that their deductible for insurance would restart in January," said Lisa Schroeder, nurse manager for Day Surgery at Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital.

So hospitals see a lot of patients taking advantage of their 'use-'em or lose-'em benefits. If deductibles are already met it makes financial sense to do those elective type surgeries. End of the year savings can also take place in other areas of health care, such as prescription purchases and preventive health care.

And if you haven't met your deductible ponder this.

"A lot of people are actually trying to have some things done because they're afraid the deductible will go up even more," said Schroeder.

Meeting that deductible is getting harder and harder. Studies show since 2006 deductibles have increased by 88%.

Hospital business offices know this all to well. The staff often has to break the news to patients that their deductible is higher than remembered.

"People get very surprised when they hit the door and they need to have something done and we find out their deductible is $5,000," said Mindy Langford, patient financial services director for Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital. "And you're talking about middle wage earners with families and they just don't have $5,000."

Fortunately, payment plans are almost always offered. Also, once a year workers can raise or lower their deductibles.

"Regardless, you're going to pay for it. You're either going to pay for it in your deductible or you're going to pay for it in your premium," said Langford.

But also remember, neglecting your health could really cost you in the long run.

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