Hello Uber, The ER Please!

Uber to the ER?

A disturbing trend or a viable option for emergencies? We look at who is using Uber for emergency transport and some of the reasons why they’re doing it.

Remember this blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.

Why Not Take an Ambulance to the ER?

Uber is definitely not the safest way to get here
Source: pixabay.com

Let’s cut to the chase. The main reason people are taking UBER is because it’s really expensive to take an ambulance. Which begs the question… Why is it so expensive to take an ambulance? That’s where the issue gets muddy. Here’s some of the reasons why ambulance bills are so high.

  • Did you know many ambulances are privately owned entities?
  • People without insurance often don’t pay their ambulance bills, so they need to increase rates on the people who do pay in order to make up for it.
  • Health insurance only pays after you meet your deductible.
  • Ambulances use a ton of complicated equipment and are staffed by highly trained EMT’s

So is Uber the Answer?

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Taking an Uber to the ER is like playing Russian Roulette. I don’t recommend it – I can’t recommend it.  But I can see why it’s tempting. A two mile trip in an ambulance might cost $2700. The median income is only $32,000, so that’s more than a month’s salary for the average person. A little fender bender, a ride to the hospital, and suddenly you’ve lost a month’s salary. So, who picks Uber over the ER?

Who Picks Uber?

  • People who aren’t having an emergency. According to this New York Times article, Dr. Anupam Jena recommends that people who aren’t having an emergency don’t call an ambulance. “Ambulances are for emergencies. If you’re not having one, it’s reasonable to consider another form of transportation.”
  • People who simply can’t afford the bill. They say the average household can’t afford a $400 emergency bill. Forget paying a $2,700 one for a 2 mile trip. You might as well rent a nice limo.
  • People who need non-emergency routine trips. Elderly patients and the chronically ill may need routine trips to the hospital. Unless it’s an emergency they often don’t elect to take an ambulance.
  • People who want to make sure they get to THEIR hospital. An ambulance will take you to the closest hospital, not necessarily the hospital you want to go to. If you take an Uber you’ll go exactly to where you want to go.

How do Uber / LYFT / and other ride-share companies feel about this?

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Officially they don’t like it. Slate.com has official statements from Uber and Lyft.

“When it comes to medical emergencies, Lyft should not be used as a substitute for emergency transportation. People should be calling 911,” wrote a Lyft spokesperson. Similarly, Uber commented, “Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement of medical professionals. In the event of any medical emergency, we always encourage people to call 911.”

Think about it, it puts the driver and the company both in positions of real liability. If something happened on the way to the hospital and the driver knew it was an emergency, how would it play out for them if things went bad?

Our Thoughts

The cost savings are tempting and sadly, for many, the bill for the ER visit alone might discourage many from seeking help. Ubering to the hospital might not be about being cheap, it might be just about having enough money to pay for the ER visit and this month’s rent. Still, in good conscious we can’t recommend it. It takes medical professionals years of training and experience, along with specialized testing to tell if something like a chest pain is an emergency or not. If something goes wrong in an Ambulance, they have special equipment and the ability to clear traffic to get to the hospital faster – something a ride-share can’t.

At the end of the day, this is your call, and here at Thrifty Patient we fully believe in giving you all the information you need to be an empowered patient.

What are your thoughts on using Uber, LYFT or another rideshare for trips to the Emergency Room? Would you do it yourself? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Free Dental Care – 9 Easy Ways to Find a Free Dental Clinic Today!

Dental Care is an often ignored, but very important part of your health! Neglecting dental health can result in expensive bills down-the-road and unintended health consequences. For many people the primary barrier to dental care is cost.

In this article we show you how to get completely, 100% free, dental care from local clinics! Stay tuned, because in future posts we’ll highlight other free community health and dental care programs that you should know about! 


468x60 Discount Medical Supplies

Dental Care is important to your health, but can be costly. Here are some ways to get free dental care.
Photo by Peter Kasprzyk on Unsplash

1.Free Dentistry Day

There are many dental clinics that offer free days for kids
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This is a great program with dental clinic events all over the US. Their website looks like it’s updated frequently by a really dedicated and caring group. There may be some restrictions at some locations – like some days may only be for kids or seniors and so on, so read up before travel. But if you’re near a location that’s having an event it’s a great option for free dental care.

2. FreeDentalCare.us

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Now THIS is a website you should definitely bookmark! They have a huge database of free and sliding-scale dental clinics in every state. They also have listings for dental clinics geared towards special needs and disabled populations. You may need to hunt around a little to find what you’re looking for, but if you’re concerned about your or a loved one’s dental health it’s well worth it!

3. ‘Give Kids a Smile’ Program

Photo by Brenda Teixeira on Unsplash

The American Dental Association runs many wonderful programs, but this may be there best. The Give Kids a Smile program works with practices to hold free cleaning and dental education events for kids. As far as free dental care programs go, this is a winner! Ask at the Give Kids a Smile Facebook page for upcoming events. ProTip: Check out the recipient list on the ADA website. If you’re nearby to a practice on that list, reach out and see if they’ve held their event yet! 



4. Dentistry From the Heart

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Dentistry from the Heart is a non-profit “working to supply the world with free dental care services.” These kind-hearted individuals have a great website with lists of events at local dental clinics.

You should read the FAQ and please note this program is geared towards adults! If you’re looking for dental care for children, check out one of the programs listed above.

5. Dental Schools are a Source of Free Dental Care

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Dental schools are a great option for free dental care! The students get practice and you get free care. Not to mention the students are supervised by dental teachers, are some of the most skilled and experienced practitioners out there, supervise everything. You can find a list of dental schools on the ADA website.

6. Mission of Mercy – Free Community Health and Dental Care
(AZ, MD, PA, TX)

Mission of Mercy is a tremendous community health and dental care program
Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

If you live in Arizona, Maryland, Pennsylvania, or Texas your in luck! This faith-based, independent, non-profit organization has been providing free dental, medical, and prescription medications since 1994. The community health and dental care programs run by the Mission of Mercy help countless people across these four states. 

You’ll definitely see Mission of Mercy in future posts here at Thrifty Patient, but don’t wait until then! Check out their site for free dental options.

7. American Dental Association

Source: pixabay.com

We’ve already covered the ADA’s big kid’s program – the Give Kids a Smile Program. Also keep an eye on their main website for upcoming events.

8. VA Dental Insurance Program

Source: Craig Adderley

For Veterans, you have access to the VA dental insurance program. This is a discounted insurance program that also can extend to beneficiaries. If you’re a veteran you should take a look at the website and the fact sheet for more info!

9. The Health and Human Services Website Has Dental Health Care Options

Source: snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

The Health and Human Services website has a list of low-cost programs dental care. If you meet certain income requirements in certain states, the care might be entirely free! They also have a few free dental care programs listed. It’s worth taking a look!

Do you know of any other suggestions? Have you used any of the services we list above? Submit any dental clinics or free dental health programs on our tips page! 

Photo by: Pegleess Barrios

Is Direct Primary Care Right for You? 7 Things You Need to Know!







Sometimes confused with concierge medicine, direct primary care is a creative new way for doctors to practice medicine.


1. Direct Primary Care is Not Insurance

Direct Primary Care isn't a form of Insurance


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Keep in mind that Direct Primary Care isn’t insurance. You don’t need health insurance to use DPC, but many DPC practices will require some form of it.

Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Post: 
How to get Health Insurance: A Step-by-Step Guide
Coming April 2019!


2. You Pay a Monthly Fee


Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

In many cases the average fee is about $80 a month, but in your state it may be higher or lower. Depending on the DPC practice, prices may vary based on age, location, or if you get additional services. Most practices bill monthly.

For a lot of people (including me!), $80 a month or $960 a year is a lot of money, so let’s keep a tally and see if it pays.

Direct Primary Care Expense: ($960.00/yr)


3. Direct Primary Care Visits Are Twice as Long!

How long was you’re last doctor visit?

No, I mean how long did you actually spend with the doctor? 15 minutes? The average visit with a DPC physician is twice as long as a regular visit! Let’s do some math. The average copay is $24.00. So that’s $48.00 for 30 minutes. If you visited once a month for a year, we’re talking $576.00.

Copay Expense for a 30 Minute Visit: ($560.00/yr)
(Using Regular Insurance)


4. You can visit your doctor more often


Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Ok, so if you’re like me this probably sounds more like a punishment. But if you’re one of the 40% of people in the US with a chronic illness, you may already be making regular visits. One study cited by Forbes says we only make 4 visits to the doctor each year!

Creative Solution or Alarming Trend?

Hello Uber! The ER Please!



5. Additional Tests Can Be MUCH Cheaper


Image Courtesy: jarmoluk

Don’t get me wrong, for the $80 a month you pay you already are getting pretty comprehensive services. Still, there may be times when you need something additional like X-rays. Many DPC practices will offer additional services at steep discounts or they’ve partnered with labs who have exclusive discounts for DPC members.

For example, a cholesterol panel might normally cost $75. At a DPC the cost might be $4.95… a 93% discount. A Pap smear could cost as much as $165. Go to your DPC and the price drops to costs $28, an 83% discount. So, on average you’re saving about 88% on tests.


6. DPC Savings Add Up fast!

How does this average savings of 83% on care translate to your checkbook? Most people won’t meet their deductible, so you have every incentive to save! A savings of 83% on an average deductible of $1,573 is $1305.59. Now of course your mileage may vary (YMMV), but if you are a heavy user of care – the type of person DPC most appeals to, this is a SIGNIFICANT savings.

Let’s imagine a scenario where you need a lot of tests, have an average high deductible plan, and you meet your deductible by the end of the year. Here’s the numbers… check out those savings!

Services Under High Deductible: ($1,573.00 / yr)
Same Services Under DPC: ($267.41 / yr)


So, let’s total up our findings:

Direct Primary Care Costs For 1 Year:
Membership Fee $960 + Routine Care $267.41 = $1,227.41

Health Insurance Plan for 1 Year:
Copays $576.00 + Yearly Deductible $1,573 = $2149.00

Total Savings by going with DPC = $921.59

The numbers above may not be your numbers. And before you make any financial decision you should definitely speak with experts and take into consideration your unique financial situation.

Direct Primary Care is not for everyone, but for people with high deductibles who want more personalized care, quicker access to their physicians, and can afford the subscription price… it’s a really compelling option.


Have you tried Direct Primary Care? Are you a DPC member or work in DPC? We’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below!

8 Simple Ways to Make the Most Of Your Next Doctor Visit!

(And maybe even make some money!)

Going to the doctor’s office can be a pain. You’re usually sick or hurt and don’t get me started on the waiting! But, it doesn’t have to be so bad. Your doctor is there to help, and there are things you can do to get even more out of your next doctor visit.

Doctor Visits don't have to be so painful and unproductive!
Image Courtesy Pixabay

Have you ever walked out and realized you forget to talk about something or are unclear of what was talked about? Ever feel like you’re being rushed through the appointment? Here are some tips to make every visit as successful as it can be. The Thrifty Patient is here to help you plan to make the most out of your next doctor visit!

1. Treat yourself like your time is worth at least $150.00 per hour!

 Photo by energepic.com from Pexels
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

You are the CEO, President, and Sole Proprietor of your body. Your time is valuable! Go into the doctor visit with a mission, goals, and the attitude that you’re here to meet with a highly skilled contractor of the most valuable business on the planet, Me. Inc. 

2. Write down your agenda, but limit it to 2 or 3 major topics.

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Would you believe patients talked about everything they went to the office for on only 21% of doctor visits!

Make sure you set the agenda. Be concise and upfront about why you’re there. The doctor will appreciate it and you’ll be able to leave the office feeling confident that every issue was taken care of.

3. Don’t let the 12-18 second rule get you during your brief Doctor Visit!

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12 – 18 Seconds… “That’s the average time it takes a doctor to interrupt you as you’re describing your symptoms. By that point, he/she has in mind what the answer is, and that answer is probably right about 80% of the time.”
– Dr. Groopman

Doctors are highly skilled problem solvers. They quickly want to help you with your health. But when people are nervous they might need a little time to work up to what they want to say. Your doctor won’t take offense if you calmly say there’s more you want to tell them. In fact I’m sure they’ll be happy you gave them even more info to work with!



Trust me, your doctor has seen it all. By keeping details to yourself that you find embarrassing, you leave vital clues out of the picture. Personally, I’m proud when I do manage to shock my doctor, like the time I got Pink Eye so badly the doc exclaimed “Whoa!”.

5. Write It Down Before You Leave!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Going to the doctor is stressful. Studies show 40% to 80% of what you’re told is forgotten before you leave! I mean come-on, it takes doctors years of training to learn all this stuff, how are you supposed to remember it when sick and worried?

Before you leave the office, write down what the doctor tells you and use the Teach-Back method to make sure you got it straight.

As the doctor is telling you what will happen next, write it down, then at the end say “Ok Doc, let me make sure I’ve understood all you said”. You’ll be surprised, you might even think of questions while you recite it back to them!

6. Check Those Meds!

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St. Joseph’s recommends that, for your safety, you keep a list of all your medications and bring that list with you whenever you visit your doctor. The doctor will appreciate it and it might save you a costly visit in the future to correct a mistake.

Here’s a great link to a medication sheet that St. Joseph’s created which you can fill out before your next visit!

7. Save on Drugs

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One in seven people don’t get their prescriptions because they cost too much. Part of the reason The Thrifty Patient was created is to help end this. If you’re having trouble paying for drugs, ask about a discount drug card during your next doctor visit. They’re free and offices usually have a stack lying around.

They also may have samples. Trust me, if they have samples they want to get them off their hands and into the hands of patients who can use them!

8. Want Free Money? Check Your HSA!

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Do you have a Health Savings Account (HSA)? Some employers have their HSAs setup so that if you complete a physical, dental, and eye appointment – or meet other conditions – they’ll contribute a ton of money to it. This could be hundreds of dollars of free money!

If you do have an HSA check with your employer to see if they offer this perk. Then on your next Doctor visit plan to get that physical done. It might also catch a problem that you can fix now rather then later!

Find Out About All the Money You’re Losing if you have a High Deductible Plan but No HSA in our upcoming April article!


Why Thrifty Patient? – 3 Honest Reasons

Why Thrifty Patient? is the very first question you should ask yourself when visiting our website. How can you spot a health care savings website that puts your interests first from one that doesn’t? Let’s talk about three ways Thrifty Patient stands apart. You’ll quickly see Why Thrifty Patient is source for your medical news!

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1. Why Thrifty Patient? – Because we have a Vision for Medical Savings

“We envision a world where a patient’s finances are never a barrier to treatment and where finances are respected as a co-equal pillar of health alongside the pillars of body, mind, spirit, and community”

We believe in practicing what we preach. At Thrifty Patient every post and article will be created to work for you. If you ever think that’s not the case, we want you to call us out on it!


2. Why Thrifty Patient?  Because We Work For You

Our articles are written not to convince, but to inform. This is an important distinction. Many businesses out there will market to you with the goal being to convince you of something. Most of them are pretty slick about it, ever watch an ad for food and get hungry?

Our goals are much different. We feel knowledge is power, and the more you know about personal healthcare economics, the more empowered you are. If you leave our site empowered to spend less on healthcare then we know we’ve done our job.

Two great examples of the work we do:

Generic Vs. Brand Name: The Shocking Price Difference of the 10 Most Common Drugs

How can I learn about Drug Recalls?


3. Why Thrifty Patient? – Look at Our Commitment to Partner Transparency

While we do make money from affiliate links, sponsors, and advertisers we promise you that we’ll always be 100% transparent about it. Not only that, but we’ll never take money from a group or to promote a product that we don’t believe in or that doesn’t put your best interests first. The moment we intentionally stop putting your interests first is the day we close this site.

All that being said, talk is cheap. We hope you stick around for the ride and we hope we can make a difference in your financial health. If even one person leaves this site empowered from something they read, then we consider it all to have been well worth the effort!

Why Thrifty Patient? Because We Got Your Back!

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