Max’s Back Pocket Vol. X

I am starting to get into the routine of writing these weekly updates. Perhaps it is becoming a bit of a habit. Unfortunately, it probably won’t last as things get back to normal. I mentioned last week that my state started turning the faucet back on. From what I am seeing, we are treading lightly. It’s a relief. I haven’t seen any concerts pop up in the parks with giant mosh pits yet. I suppose that’s a good sign. People in my community seem to be handling this responsibly. Even my hairdresser said she won’t touch me until June.

That said, we did come across this freak thing on a hike last week.

I mean, what the hell is this? It got worse from here.

My daily routine has evolved. I have been heading into work a bit later than usual; between 8 – 8:30 am. Typically have a few meetings in the morning. I grab a “to-go” lunch from the cafeteria around 11:30 am. Then, I crank out as much work as I can until about 4:30 pm when I call it a day. Toning down my hours at work has been a focus of mine for the last year or two. By the same token, I have been extremely productive and have closed out several lingering projects that have been on my list.

With that, welcome to the 10th edition of Max’s Back Pocket.

Max’s Back Pocket

Over the last several years, I have absorbed a ton of great content from a lot of talented people in and around the internet. Several of those ideas even got drawn into my personal finance strategy. Some of these writers are professionals, but a lot of them are just amateurs throwing their weight around in a random niche. I like to think I am pretty good at healthcare and personal finance, but there are plenty of people out there much smarter than me.

Up until now, most of these ideas just landed in my back pocket. There they would sit for my own benefit whenever I needed them. They were rarely shared or exchanged with anyone in my personal network. These days, that is no longer the case. Max will start scouring the entire internet for these ideas in a weekly effort to not only spread but recognize the wealth of knowledge that is out there. This weekly check-in will also give me an excuse to catch up on what’s going on around here more often. What are we calling this idiomatic experiment?

Max’s Back Pocket.

Personal Finance

Yesterday was payday. Both Mrs. Max OOP and I get paid every two weeks and we are on the same payment cycle. That makes every other Friday a good “cash flow” day for us.

When I outlined how much cash we keep in our pocket for a rainy day, I mentioned we have a fidelity cash management account for our day-to-day cash needs. I consider this our ‘operating account’ where our paychecks hit and we pay bills from. It is a nice bucket for me to keep everything organized. The interest rate is currently next to nothing so I do my best to “sweep” this account every Friday and invest everything I can. It generally has just a few thousand dollars in it.

Here is a look at my current interest rate. I won’t spend it all in one place.

Yesterday, I made another ‘donation’ to the medical office building portfolio with a $1,000 investment in GMRE. I need to keep that project moving. I also invested about $1,000 into the total stock market index.

Our expenses have been lean and fortunately both of our jobs have been stable, and that opens up some room for additional investing. I have been debating on maxing out my 403(b) this year, so I have been putting the minimum in that account.

We spent $0.00 on gas in April, but had to fill up in early May

Speaking of lean, the mind behind Budget Life List touched on 6 Ways to Get Financially Lean During COVID-19. Working for a hospital, my favorite one is number five: lean into your health.

Ensure you’re sleeping at least eight hours, drink a lot of water, eat various colored fruits and vegetables, exercise, and meditate. A way to stay out of the hospital is to work on staying healthy.

Budget Life List

It’s certainly not a guarantee, but following this advice is worth a shot. Hospitals are expensive; I know from experience, if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean?

Healthcare

We stayed focused on healthcare this week here at Max Out of Pocket. I decided to review the mechanics of telehealth billing with Telehealth Billing: Exposed!. We went over how it works and I think it might come in handy should your insurance decide to waive out-of-pocket costs related to telehealth services. Modifiers and place of service codes will be important.

It’s true, several payers are waiving telehealth out-of-pocket costs for 90 days. Here is Anthem’s press release. Remember, this doesn’t apply to self-insured plans; they have their own rules. That said, I would be pretty surprised if they didn’t follow along.

Waiving any member cost share until June 14, 2020 for telehealth visits, including visits for mental health and select Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies, for our fully insured employer plans, Individual plans, Medicare plans and Medicaid plans, where permissible.

Anthem

In that same press release, Anthem mentions they are relaxing/suspending select authorization requirements so providers can focus on care for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Healthcare Economist briefly covers this in Fighting fraud sensibly in a global pandemic. There is a thought that relaxing some of these processes and regulations will allow unethical providers to engage in “wasteful and fraudulent activities”. While the Healthcare Economist acknowledges this risk, he argues it might be worth the cost.

The authors note that Medicare and Medicaid improper payments totaled in the tens of billions of dollars. Yet even if these figures do rise, increasing access to care in a pandemic is likely well worth the cost.

The Healthcare Economist

Life

I have said it once and I will say it again, I am starting to like this slower pace of life. We really need to start thinking about what part of this pandemic we want to keep and what parts we want to ditch. I feel like people are getting a chance to appreciate the simple things in life again.

But then again, that is easy for me to say. Mrs. Max OOP and I have been saving and investing for years. We were ready to comfortably ride out a pandemic should one pop up. We even still have our jobs. But there are plenty of others that NEED the economy to turn back on so they can get back to work. That said, there is also a lot of good coming out of this. For example, Physician On Fire donated $25,000 to COVID-19 relief. Pretty cool.

Well, that about does it for this Saturday. Here is another picture from that hike last weekend. We will try and stay away from those parts of the forest today and tomorrow.

How is your life going? Find any good hikes?

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3 Responses

  1. That devilish freak thing on the hike — what in the world?!?

    A movie prop? Haunted house mannequin?

    That’s freakishly scary.

    Stay safe out there, and we’ll see you when the pandemic is over.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  2. Thanks for the shout out, Max! I’ll be sure to return the favor. 😉

    Also, your post hike photos look like they came from a horror movie set! A part of me is repulsed and the other part is like, I want to do that!

    Happy trails!

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