Consumers get the best value when multiple companies are competing to get the customer’s business. As more people get high deductible health plans, an increasing number of services are available which can help you find a better value on the medical care you need.
The Growing Power of the Consumer
As healthcare expenses continue to go up, the number of people carrying high deductible health plans and HSAs has continued to explode. At the end of 2010, the number of existing HSAs reached 6.2 million, with over $10 billion held in those accounts. That is a 27% increase in the number of accounts over the previous 12 months, and a whopping 41% increase in assets.
This is great news, because the more people who have these plans, the more providers will feel pressure to offer more competitive pricing in order to attract those consumers. Most of our members already use our Lab Testing service to save money, but that company no longer offers discounts on MRIs and other scans. Here’s another option that may save you a lot of money.
Even if you don’t have a high deductible, you may at some point face medical charges that are not covered by your health insurance – either because it is excluded as a pre-existing condition, or because it is an elective procedure that is not covered by the plan. So you should always be on the lookout for ways to save some money.
What’s It Gonna Cost?
Living in Colorado, we are fortunate to be close to the mountains, and easy skiing and snowboarding access. (Spring’s arrival means we only have a couple more weeks or so to take advantage of this!)
Wiley, snowboard in hand, Winter Park, CO.
I have a good friend this year who managed to break his ankle while skiing, and ended up spending a few thousand dollars for the MRI, surgery, and follow-up physical therapy before finally reaching his deductible.
He asked me (unfortunately, after the expenses were incurred), how he could have saved some money on his MRI. My first advice to everyone is to get an estimate ahead of time. Just like if you were getting a break job on your car, there is no reason a provider cannot tell you the price (or at least a “good faith estimate”) up front.
Let Them Compete For Your Business
There are an increasing number of websites and businesses that help consumers shop there medical care. One of the best I’ve found for more expensive procedures is Medibid.com. The way their system works is that you post a request, and doctors bid on the procedure.
You get to view the doctor’s profile, review the bids, and select the one that works best for you. You can even upload images or other information, so the bidding doctor has a complete picture of what you need.
When we did the research, we were able to find an MRI for less than $400. This price is less than one third the price he was actually charged.
Be An Involved Consumer and Patient
If you ask the hospital how much something will cost, they may look at you a little funny, like “why would you ask a question like that?” Well, do NOT let that intimidate you. It is your money, and you should get the best value possible.
If you do use this service, other others like it, let me know how it worked out for you. We’re always looking for good information that we can share with our readers on how to reduce their medical costs.