Even for those who have private insurance…
Patients Can Save Money When They Pay Their Doctor In Cash
Even patients who have their own health insurance can often save themselves money by paying cash. The Houston Healthcare Initiative website (www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org) now has a page that lists seventy-eight separate medical services that will accept cash payments. The number expands almost daily as independent providers look for ways to compete with the large conglomerates that provide most of the care here in the U.S. and provide more and better service to their patients. To go directly to the “Healthcare Pricing” page click here: https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org/pricing.
There is no charge to visit the site, nor is there any fee to those who want to list their practice or
Direct Payments Are Counter Intuitive
How could a patients’ direct payments be more affordable than those from their health insurance? “People who have health insurance assume that the insured price is always better than the cash price, but that is not always the case,” said neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative, Dr. Steven Goldstein. This has to do with meeting deductibles that are now higher than in years past. “Businesses who provide their employees with health insurance often require them to bare more of the cost in the form of higher deductibles, paying thousands of dollars on their healthcare before they can make a claim.” It is for these people and families that direct payments for service, on the day provided, makes sense.
But Do Not Go Without
Of course, this is not always the case nor is it a good reason to completely forgo health insurance. “Health insurance can protect people from high fees associated with serious long-term illnesses and accidents that could potentially bankrupt them,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But if someone has a high deductible and wants to save, this is a reasonable alternative that is at least worth investigation.”
Good For Doctors Too?
It is costly and labor intensive to administer health insurance. Healthcare providers benefit from accepting cash because of lower administrative and collection costs. “The labor required to file claims, negotiate with the insurance company and wait for payment, chase down their compensation from the insurance company or the patient saves the office manager a lot of time and hassle,” Dr. Goldstein said. “So much so that providers can pass that savings on to those who can pay cash.”
The biggest potential negative for those who want to pay in cash is that often those payments will not count toward a deductible. All insurance companies have different rules for out of pocket payments and where the cap is for them. It is a good idea for those with such policies to investigate what the requirements and restrictions are in advance. Cash payment makes more sense for someone with a deductible not met or high enough that it likely will not be reached anytime in the same calendar year (deductibles reset annually). The insurance company web site or employer administrator will be able to answer these questions. “There is no substitute for knowing what a policy will or will not allow,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Before making a decision make sure it is informed.”
About Houston Healthcare Initiative
The Houston Healthcare Initiative web site is an aggregator of health news, healthcare pricing information, and resources for those who want to help drive reform for the healthcare industry. HHI’s emphasis for reform is on free market innovation and personal responsibility.