Monday, April 21, 2008

Frugal Tip: Choose Rich Doctors



[Photo by brimelow]

How did you choose your doctor? Their gender? Their specialty? Fame? Recommendations from friends?

My insurance plan lists thousands of primary care providers. Narrowing by gender and specialty still left me with over a hundred, and all of my friends hated their doctors.

So I chose the doctor with the best address. Not the one closest to me, but the one with an office in the poshest area.

I learned this trick from a friend long ago. All else being equal, choose the nicer or richer environment. In her case, it meant choosing a job with a beautiful office (seriously). In my case, it means finding stores and service providers that make me feel rich without spending more money.

My doctor's office is in this building. My dentist works here. The copays for healthcare providers in landmark skyscrapers are the same as for doctors in bad neighborhoods. This is where I go for salon stuff. The salon in this building costs $10 less than the slightly sketchy place near my house and has better magazines to boot. When I do errands or go for appointments at these places, I feel rich, even though I spend less than most people.

The same principle also applies to free things. I go to the Harold Washington Library as much as I can, because the service is better and the environment more pleasant than at my local branch. If I need a restroom when I'm out and about, I'll try to find one at a fancy hotel rather than at a Starbucks. (Using the bathroom anywhere without being a customer is slightly ethically questionable, but that's another entry.)

You can also twist it around: find reasons to feel good about places where you go to save money. Lots of people don't like putting a quarter in the cart at Aldi (you get it back at the end of your visit), but to me, it's a reminder of growing up in Germany and the German roots of the company. Thrift stores and Filene's Basement? Treasure hunts, with a more interesting and varied selection than what you find at Macy's.

Obviously, I don't mean you should choose service providers or stores based on their atmosphere alone. Do your research to find out which option is cheapest or offers other things that you value, like a grocery store with local produce or a doctor with special expertise. But after that, if you still have more than one option, go for the place that makes you feel good.

4 comments:

shoyu said...

You also can collect better soap and toilet paper from hotel restrooms than from Starbucks restrooms.

Anonymous said...

At first, I thought you were recomending choosing richer doctors because they get more business. If they get more business, it might be an indication of their skill and compentency as a doctor. Doctors that aren't as good at their jobs might presumably make less money.

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