We sometimes fall victim to the belief that if something costs more, it must be worth more. Expensive cars mean luxury bells and whistles. Expensive clothes? Designer prestige and status. But is that necessarily true? Thanks to the internet, customer reviews, and comprehensive research rankings, it’s possible to get the same product for a wide variety of prices. Why pay more if you don’t have to?
This also—surprisingly—applies to medical care. For families and groups belonging to a health sharing program or medical cost-sharing ministry stretching shared money benefits everyone …literally.
These programs are formed when groups “of like-minded individuals agree to come together and help each other pay their medical expenses. They offer faith-based programs for planning for unforeseen medical expenses.” They are not insurance but act in a similar way. Monies are pooled, saved until a member needs them, and then dispersed for treatment or care.
With this in mind, clinics like Longview’s Pacific Surgical Center (PSC) are a blessing. They welcome everyone, accepting an array of insurance providers or cash payments, and “Knowing that we’ve provided you with leading-edge, compassionate care at a reasonable rate gives us immense satisfaction. Our entire team vigorously works to demonstrate our personal and professional values of excellence, generosity and a sense of duty to each and every patient we interact with.”
At PSC, prices are clearly posted and surgical quotes valid for 60 days. This allows individuals to plan ahead, knowing exactly what can be expected, without the post-operative sticker shock. Procedures are done on an outpatient basis so there’s no overnight stay and much of the lab work and imaging is handled in-house.
More doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals are willing to negotiate cash pricing. And many times, the final cost is lower than even using traditional insurance. Consumer Reports explains that “healthcare providers are finding that by charging people who pay cash less than the insurer-negotiated rate for some health services, they can come out ahead financially too…Cutting out the insurer as the middleman can significantly reduce the provider’s administrative and billing costs. And healthcare providers who get cash upfront don’t have to chase down the money later, either from a patient or the insurance company.”
Their study has found that “Reduced fees for paying cash are more common for diagnostic procedures, such as CAT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds, but cash payers can also often get a better deal for certain lab work, prescription drugs, outpatient surgeries, and therapeutic services, such as physical therapy.”
It’s still advised to shop around. If you have insurance or Medicare, consider requesting an Explanation of Benefits-type breakdown of what all final costs would be. At the same time, seek estimates from outpatient centers like PSC.
Online tools like the Healthcare Bluebook are a great resource. The Bluebook’s goal is three-fold. “Search: Easily search any procedure to find out how much you should be paying in your area. Compare: Bluebook’s Fair Price information and quality rankings enable smarter healthcare decisions. Save: Save hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs every time you receive medical care.”
For example, they show carpal tunnel surgery cash prices ranging from $3,095 to nearly $10,000 with a fair price being $4,037. PSC’s transparency pricing lists it as only $3,000 with facility fee, surgeon’s fee, and anesthesiologist’s fee included.
If you belong to a medical cost-sharing program, but also maintain high deductible or catastrophic insurance coverage, it may also benefit your family to have a health savings account (HSA). According to HealthCare.gov, an HSA is “A type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By using untaxed dollars in a Health Savings Account to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you can lower your overall health care costs.”
Medical issues are scary. The American Psychological Association reports that “Two-thirds of U.S. adults (66 percent) cite the cost of health insurance as a stressor for themselves, their loved ones or in general…This stress about the cost of health insurance seems to affect Americans at all income levels. In addition, more than six in 10 adults (63 percent) cite uncertainty about the future, both with their own health and that of others, as a source of stress.”
Shop around, ask questions, get written estimates, and take control of your health and healthcare dollars. Don’t postpone a vital, necessary surgery and definitely don’t pay more than you have to. Call 360-442-7900 and let PSC get you back on your feet again.