Americans love to shop. We search for the right service or provider with all the glee of a treasure-hunting pirate. And it pays off. Shopping around means finding just the right fit, getting exactly what you need or want, and saving hard-earned money.
All of which is true when looking at health care as well. You can shop within a variety of insurers, but also for specific health care providers themselves. Thanks to a new trend in price transparency, clinics like Longview’s Pacific Surgical Center are a great option for all your outpatient surgery needs, coverage, and cost.
The Wall Street Journal explains that “It’s impossible to say exactly what kind of health insurance to get. There are many variables that make a plan right for someone, so it’s a decision you have to reach on your own…it’s not that one plan is materially better than another, but you have to look at all the angles. What’s more important to you? Overall cost? The ability to get some coverage wherever you choose to get care? How much hassle does it take to get things done? There’s no such thing as the perfect health insurance, but hopefully, you can get pretty close.”
Options include provider-based coverage with alphabet-soup names like HMO’s, PPO’s, and high deductible/catastrophic plans. These vary by monthly premium, coverage limits, and often include an acceptable list of doctors who are considered in or out of network. Be careful when finding a new primary care physician or specialist since visits to an out of network doc are often paid at a lower percentage or not at all.
Then there are health savings accounts (HSA’s) or flexible spending accounts (FSA’s) to help cover supplemental bills. These can be used towards extra costs and are untaxed by the government. Make sure to use all saved funds within the established timeframe so you don’t lose out.
Whatever your insurance situation, it’s also ok to shop around for doctors. Consumer Reports suggests a little research into new—or existing—doctors just to give yourself peace of mind. “If you know a doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional, ask for the names of doctors or practices in your area whom they like and trust. That can be more insightful than recommendations from friends or family. You should also consider what kind of doctor you want.”
Once you’ve compiled a few names, they recommend checking with your insurance company for their network status and looking into board certification, hospital affiliations, and office basics (location, accessibility, hours, emergency contact details). The National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health offer a handy checklist of 17 questions for any potential new doctor.
At Pacific Surgical Center (PSC), skilled physicians handle all your outpatient orthopedic, urology, gastroenterology, podiatry, and general surgery needs. Their financial counselors can bill Medicare and a variety of major insurance plans but often skipping the red tape in lieu of their clearly posted cash prices is the cheapest out-of-pocket option.
PSC doctors work with your current team of doctors and their commitment to outpatient excellence means surgeries are minimally invasive and you’re home the same day to rest and recover. Most imaging, prep-work, and post-operative visits can be done on-site and patients are back on their feet in no time.
Unsure if shopping around for plans might be for you? Think of it as an annual physical for your wallet. Taking a few minutes to see if your needs have changed, medically or financially, doesn’t have to be complicated. Are monthly premiums going up? Is coverage staying the same? Do you need any extra treatment, surgery, medication, or therapies? Do you regularly meet or exceed annual limits? If there aren’t any major changes, maybe sticking with the status quo is best.
But if it’s time for a new doctor or specialist, make sure PSC’s team of doctors are on your list. Read about their board certification, residence details, and education online. Then look them—or others—up on the American Medical Association’s DoctorFinder, Healthgrades.com, or Medicare.gov’s Physician Compare.
You can also comparison shop for specific procedures as well. The Healthcare Bluebook provides a geographically-based cost range for individual surgeries and treatments in your area. Such dedicated transparency has “helped Bluebook users cut healthcare spending by $240.47 million” since 2007.
So take stock, shop around, and ask questions but don’t postpone treatment any longer. Get the care you need at the price you can afford. Call PSC at 360-442-7900 with questions or to schedule a consultation.