What Would You Do? Drive 12 Hours to Save $440?

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My doctor wants me to undergo a specific medical test. I am currently out of town and didn’t plan to return for at least three weeks. If I seek medical attention while I’m away all services will be priced out-of-network, which means I will pay full price. We are not even close to meeting our $4000 out-of-network deductible for the year.

The estimate for the procedure is roughly $550. In order to use my in-network services I need to drive over six hours home and another six hours back. That’s twelve hours of driving I did not intend to incur.

I initially planned to make the long drive, but after further consideration I’m just not so sure. I’ll need to drive a total of twelve hours alone. I would probably drive home the night before the test, drive to the test that morning and then drive back to the beach. I’ve done this before, but twelve hours in the car alone is quite exhausting.

If I make the drive home I’ll owe a $30 co-pay plus at least $80 in gas expenses. That makes a $440 difference between using an in-network provider versus a local out-of-network provider. (I’ve already met my in-network deductible for the year.)

So what do you think? Should I make the long haul back to my in-network doctor and save myself $440 or should I suck up the cost, stay at the beach and keep in my mind that I have plenty of money saved to pay this bill, even though I absolutely hate to pay that much money unnecessarily?

Honestly I cannot decide what to do and for those that are wondering I cannot delay the timing of the test. It must be performed during the three weeks that I am scheduled to be away.

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8 thoughts on “What Would You Do? Drive 12 Hours to Save $440?”

  1. Is there any reason that taking the test at home would have non-financial benefits for you? For example, is there a chance the test might have to be repeated? Might the at-home provider have an established relationship with your main doctor, so the records would be easier to transfer or faster to receive?

    I think I would lean towards saving the money and doing it at home, but it really is a close call, especially if there are no other reasons beside financially. Your time at the beach has a value, too!

    • It is possible that the procedure would need to be repeated, but that test would most likely not need to be performed within the same three week window. I am a bit concerned about the competency of the technician. I know that going home would guarantee an expert.

  2. If I was faced with this choice, I would suck it up and pay the extra $440 to be able to go to a local out-of-network provider. The prospect of driving alone for 12 hours for a short procedure is too unsavory for me. Is saving $440 really worth that boring, long haul drive and the opportunity cost of forgoing valuable beach time with your family? Tough decision but I’d dole out the extra $.

    • I’m leaning towards staying. The drive would take at least six hours each way, then a wasted night at home while everyone else in my family is swimming and playing. Not to mention I’m a bit afraid of getting bad results and then driving six hours back in the car alone. If nothing else it seems like the family support would be worth the extra price I might have to pay.

  3. I think you are in a secure enough financial position that you could comfortably afford the $440. That being said, I know you’re frugal. Maybe treat this as the one splurge in your life?
    At $440 for 12 hours of driving time, plus the 3+ hours for the procedure, your time is costing you $29 an hour, not including the time you will spend away while you’re sleeping. Is your time worth more or less than that?

    • I love how you broke down the cost per hour. When you add in the number of hours wasted over night and away from my family the amount per hour drops even lower. When you type it out in black and white it does make the choice a little easier to swallow. I am definitely leaning towards staying put.

  4. I don’t know what the procedure is or the implications of it. What i would suggest is suck up the cost as the stress of driving back and forth, that too alone and then going through the entire test is more hassle than $440. Sometimes peace of mind is worth much much more than mere monetary concerns. But that’s my take as i hate to go to doctors, stresses me out.
    Since you are frugal in every areas of your life and comfortably placed financially, you can definitely call this a need for your mental well-being rather than splurge. Yep, I am an enabler…

    • I completely agree that the stress of driving makes the decision to stay put a little easier. I am worried that I might get bad news and then be forced to sit in the car all alone for six hours contemplating the results. Seems to make much more sense to stay close to my family so I have their support. Thanks for weighing in!


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