Dr. Kose On Scheduling End-Of-Year Health Care

(From Dr. Bill Kose with Blanchard Valley Health System)

With a little over two months remaining in 2023, many people may be thinking about medical tests and procedures they need to get done before the end of the year.

Or, if you are not yet making these healthcare plans, perhaps now might be a good time. We at Blanchard Valley Health System advise community members to start this planning in October. If you leave making those calls until mid-December, it may be harder to schedule the things you need done. Both you and your healthcare provider will benefit from starting the process now.

After all, it can be a busy time. Many insurance plans offer incentives for wellness screening programs that should be done once a year, so patients who haven’t yet scheduled those might be trying to do so at the end of the year. Some screenings may take longer than others and be more likely to require scheduling ahead of time.

Patients may be deciding when to schedule some surgical procedures, too. Surgery to fix a hernia or a sinus problem may be necessary but not an emergency. Patients may be waiting to see whether they’re likely to meet their 2023 deductible before deciding whether to schedule these surgeries this year or next.

However, often these procedures require at least one doctor’s appointment ahead of time. So, you must allow time to schedule these appointments first and then schedule the surgery itself. In addition, while many of these surgeries can be put off for a while, if you put them off for too long, the medical situation could become more complicated. So, it’s better not to wait too long.

Keep in mind that many other people will also be trying to schedule appointments and procedures around the end of the year.

And there is another aspect of the season to consider. Around Thanksgiving, families come into contact with loved ones they haven’t seen in a long time, many of whom have traveled on planes. This, combined with more people spending time indoors rather than socializing on the patio as the weather gets colder, means there is far more opportunity for infectious disease to spread. Some hospital beds may be filled with COVID-19 or influenza patients, which may also make it harder to schedule the procedures you need.

Financially, it would be ideal to plan all of this at the start of the calendar year. However, health issues often involve surprises, and many people don’t know what to expect or whether they’re likely to meet their deductible until much later. In addition, people may want to schedule medical procedures around the holidays when they have time off to recuperate or when family can stay with them to provide care.

It makes sense that many people are thinking about this now rather than in January. But suppose you need a colonoscopy, a hernia repair, or any other type of procedure in 2023. In that case, we’d encourage you to make the initial phone call as soon as you can, especially if multiple appointments may be required. If you aren’t sure what screenings you need, you can always check with your primary care provider.

We are here to serve this community, and we are committed to providing excellent care for the remainder of 2023, all of 2024, and well into the future. But patients and providers alike will benefit from planning ahead. We’d encourage you to think about it now to ensure you’re more likely to start 2024 as your healthiest self.

William Kose, MD, JD Vice President of Special Projects, Blanchard Valley Health System