The costs of good health

| February 03, 2008

Increasingly, though, high-deductible plans make sense for families and older individuals as well, as Health Savings Accounts enable tax-deductible health-expense budgeting of up to $5,800 yearly for a family to be deducted from taxes, representing $1,450 federal tax savings in the 25 percent tax bracket. The accounts allow for funds to roll over to the next year if unused.

The key is in budgeting for both premium and out-of-pocket expenses and having enough in the HSA to cover them. If the health plan paired with them has no copays or coinsurance, an HSA might even make sense for individuals with higher expenses. Frequent doctor visits and prescriptions will meet deductibles quickly, and the rest of the year’s eligible procedures will be covered in full.


Roadside Doctoring
Trucker-friendly clinics help ease suffering of drivers in need of health care
By Randy Grider

OK, so you have insurance or cash in your pocket for health care services – what are your choices while on the road?

Most truckers will tell you, they are few and far between.

In most places across the country, truckers’ health care opportunities are limited to urgent care-type facilities, hospital emergency rooms and local physicians – if you’re lucky enough to talk one into seeing you.

“It hasn’t been easy getting health care on the road,” says 53-year-old Wayne Helton of Memphis, Tenn., a former owner-operator who now drives for SMS Trucking of Cabot, Ark. “I’ve had to reach into my own head and pull my own teeth.”

Helton, who can recall numerous personal health emergencies during his 27 years of driving a truck, says his experiences are not uncommon.

“There are many drivers out there driving up and down the road sick,” Helton says.

There are myriad reasons drivers cannot, or will not, stop to seek health care while on the job, among them a lack of insurance, the high costs of walk-in services and fear of losing their jobs if they shut down their rigs while under a load. “Some companies out there brainwash their drivers into believing they can’t put themselves out of service for health reasons,” Helton says. “These type companies use the drivers and run their health into the ground.”

But an equally influential deterrent to health care on the road is a lack of available facilities that fit the trucking lifestyle. The majority are located in areas not easily accessed by commercial vehicles.

Joyce Nolte, a 64-year-old Texarkana, Ark., resident who retired from trucking four months ago after 13 years of over-the-road driving, says having a medical problem on the road is a helpless feeling. She once suffered gall bladder problems that confined her to her truck in California until the condition forced her to call for an ambulance in Tennessee to rush her to the hospital.

“A lot of times, truckers have to wait until they get home,” Nolte says. “When you’re driving a big truck, there’s no place to go with them.”

Finally, some relief.

Dr. Ronald Rush, who is Nolte’s hometown physician, was moved to act by another trucker patient, who came to his office with a broken ankle.

“I asked him when he had injured his foot,” Rush says. “He told me he had done it two weeks earlier when he was jumping down from his truck. He said he was on the East Coast and couldn’t find a doctor, so he waited until he got home to see me.”

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