Take Care of Your Back Pain: Make the Most of your Annual Medical Insurance Deductible or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)


The leaves are turning. There’s a chill in the air. The end of the year is quickly approaching. In all the holiday frenzy make time to take care of yourself. Now is the time to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit from your health insurance plan.

If you’ve been putting off a procedure – especially if you’ve met your annual deductible or you’re close to it or if you have funds remaining in your Flexible Spending Account – now is the time.

The fact that your procedure may be of little or no cost to you could be just the motivation you need to take care of those nagging aches and pains.


Most health insurance policies calculate deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenses based on a calendar year. All copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses are reset on the first of January. Any medical expenses you acquire during that calendar year will be applied towards your deductible and must be paid out-of-pocket until your deductible is met. At this point, insurance begins to pay for services, which may be covered at 100 percent or may require you to pay coinsurance (a percentage of your claim expense).

If you have already met your annual deductible, this is the perfect time to take care of that back pain procedure you have been putting off such as kyphoplasty, epidural steroid injections (ESIs), selective nerve root block (SNRB), medical brand (facet joint) denervations or sacroiliac (SI) joint injections.

Coverage of procedures will vary by insurance company, but this is still a good time to take action.


Another factor to consider is your flexible-spending account (FSA). These pre-tax contributions can be used to pay for eligible medical expenses, but they expire at the end of your benefit period and must be forfeited.

Taking care of any necessary medical procedures before the end of the calendar year can help you apply your unused FSA funds before they expire. Medical facilities typically experience a heavy demand for procedures towards the end of the year as patients try to maximize their benefits, so the sooner you schedule your appointment, the better. Waiting until the last minute could cause you to miss the opportunity to see your doctor before the year ends.

Schedule your appointment today, and let your insurance policy work for you.

Varicose Veins Gone For Good Without Major Surgery


Varicose veins are observed among as many as 60% of all American adults, and among 50% of women. According to The National Women’s Health Information Center, by the mid 50’s, 41% of women in the US suffer from either spider or varicose veins. Often the first signs of varicose veins appear during pregnancy. However, prolonged constipation, lack of exercise, and additional weight are also contributing factors.

In the past, people who suffered from varicose veins were offered only one treatment option – surgical removal of the diseased binding and veins. This painful procedure is still performed today. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia, followed by a cut in the groin and the knee. This traumatic surgery is often accompanied by the risk of scarring and nerve damage. Recovery from it is painful, time consuming and nearly always requires significant doses of pain medication.

Alternatives to Varicose Vein Surgery

Modern technologies offer alternatives to varicose vein treatment such as sclerotherapy. During this procedure a special drug (sclerosant) is injected into the vein. The drug forms a plug, which excludes the problem vein from the circulatory system.

The good news is that it is a painless procedure that takes about 10-15 minutes. Using this method allows us to selectively remove varicose veins, while maintaining the healthy areas of other blood vessels. It improves blood circulation, removes abnormal blood stasis in the varicose veins, and prevents disease from progressing. The signs of varicose veins disappear as do the clinical manifestations such as swelling, cramps, pain and fatigue.

In many cases, sclerotherapy can quickly solve the problem. However, in other cases, the problem requires a different approach: laser treatment.

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT), is another fast and painless procedure. During EVLT the patient is conscious, but the leg under treatment is numbed under local anesthesia. A physician makes a small incision in the leg near the location of the damaged vein and a tiny fiber optic probe is inserted into the vein using ultrasound. A highly concentrated laser beam heats the walls of the veins and reduces them, which causes the unhealthy vein to close.

Laser accuracy allows the doctor to treat the vein, without affecting the surrounding tissue, and when the vein is closed, it is slowly absorbed into the surrounding soft tissue. Other healthy veins in the legs will then take the normal flow of blood to the heart.

We can see from all of this that varicose veins are not a life sentence. There are great alternatives to help you a recover an active and pain free life.

Fibroids = Hysterectomy? Maybe Not. Learn Why.


When you suffer from uterine fibroids all you want is relief. Historically, hysterectomy was the only choice for fibroid treatment. However, in 1995 the FDA approved a new, non-invasive treatment option call uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). The procedure has been performed in about 30,000 women in the United States since then.

There is substantial evidence supporting the use of UFE as an alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy for managing uterine fibroids. In addition, because UFE is a nonsurgical treatment, it might be a more acceptable choice if you otherwise would decline surgical management of your fibroids.

Here some things you should know about UFE:

– It is an extremely safe and minimally invasive method of treatment that does not require anesthesia.

– Intervention is highly effective in more than 98.5% of the cases

– There is an immediate improvement in symptoms.

– Fibroids do not return again (unlike myomectomy for which the probability of relapse is 30-40%).

– The recovery period is usually 1 day.

– There is an extremely low probability of any complications. According to comparative studies, the risk of any complications is 20 times lower than for any option of surgical treatment of fibroids.

– The uterus is not removed.

– The ability to bear children is retained.

–    After UFE, fibroids are reduced in size by 42% to 83%. Patients’ satisfaction with the procedure is high (>90%), and UFE is safe and has a low rate of major complications (1.25%).

For treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids, UFE is a safe and effective nonsurgical alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy.

What should you ask if your doctor recommends a hysterectomy?

In these days of information overload on the Internet and other media, it is essential that you have an honest conversation with your doctor about this minimally invasive procedure as a treatment option. Following are some questions to get you started.

– Why are you recommending a hysterectomy? Are there any less invasive choices? Why not?

– Should I be considering medical therapy (hormone treatment) instead of surgery?

– Why are you recommending a hysterectomy? What if I don’t pursue the surgery at this time?

– Do you know about and do you refer any of your patients to have uterine artery embolization?

– Is it something I should consider? Why or why not?

– What will my recovery be like with a hysterectomy? With UFE?

– What about psychological/emotional effects of each option?