16 thoughts on “Saving Money On Health Care With A High Deductible Plan

  1. Yeah most docs don’t know costs. I do love that Walmart $4 med list. I often refer patients to it and try to prescribe meds from it. There are a whole bunch of cardiac medications on there. I have had patients save over $300 from making a few changes to their meds.

    Massachusetts recently passed a law (I think a year or two ago) where all of the costs for tests had to be available for each hospital. That way you can see what an MRI will cost at Boston Medical Center versus MGH. I am not sure if it rolled out, but it is that kind of transparency that will help people with High Deductible Plans and hopefully lead to savings in the market.

    1. Most hospitals should be able to provide you a list of costs before any sort of procedure or appointment. Most people are afraid to ask…

      Additionally, many insurance provides (BCBSTX as an example) allows you to comparison shop on their website to find the lower cost providers.

      When I had an MRI on my knee, there were out of pocket ranges from $80 – $3,000…that’s insanity. Glad I took the time to look.

      1. All those quotes are estimates, and they’re not useful for anything complex or for emergencies. But for a standard appointment or non-urgent imaging, it can definitely help.

  2. I am on the cheapest ACA plan in my area right now – a HDHP from Kaiser Permanente. I’ve heard people rag on HMOs like Kaiser, but I’ve actually had a great experience. I’ve been to the doctor twice so far, and because the healthcare provider IS the insurance company, my doctor was able to tell me up-front how much things cost. We were able to decide on what I needed at a price that worked for me. Case in point: I needed a typhoid vaccination for an upcoming trip to Peru. I could have gotten a shot, or taken some pills. The pills were half as much as the shot and lasted longer, so that’s what I went for.

    We used to have Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and that was always the worst kind of crapshoot. We NEVER knew what kind of surprise bills we’d get in the mail. At least now we are able to make informed decisions for our healthcare AND our wallet!

    The only downside is that I’m not really in a position to handle the deductible right now if something really did go wrong. It’s a $5500 deductible per person, and I don’t have that much saved up (but I couldn’t afford the higher-priced plans either), although I am working on building up my HSA. Recently I hurt my foot while running. I think I had a stress fracture, and the standard diagnosis for that is an MRI scan – quite outside of my budget. The treatment for that is rest, so I decided against going to the doctor. Thankfully, it’s better now, but I realize that’s a dangerous thing. This is what I get for being a biologist – just enough knowledge to make me dangerous! Haha

    1. I’ve heard good things about Kaiser. And I agree, I also had Anthem Blue Cross through my old employer, and I could never figure out how they calculated the amount I owed! I’m actually quite concerned that high deductible plans cause people to not seek care – like in your MRI example. Other studies have shown that to be true, that people will just not go to the doctor/get bloodwork/get imaging because they’re concerned about the cost. Glad to hear it’s better now!

  3. I don’t really have any suggestions but wanted to let you know you’re not alone.

    I, too, have Graves Disease. I was diagnosed when I was 29. My endocrinologist was great about letting me choose if I wanted RAI, surgery, or try for remission. I opted for remission but didn’t hit it after 2 years so we did RAI. Every day I’m thankful that I had amazing insurance during that time, given how many blood tests and appointments I had during that time with only a $10 copay. The high deductible plan I’m on now would have been a nightmare. I’m also on levothyroxine (112 mcg) and use the mail order pharmacy thru insurance.

    Once I was regulated, she passed me off to my primary physician (all within the same network of clinics/hospitals) and that doctor has done a great job over the last 11 years, although it does require annual blood tests. I only need to see my endocrinologist if I plan on getting pregnant, so she can properly regulate my hormone levels.

    I’ve been fortunate that both doctors have included me in health decisions and neither have ever recommended anything unnecessary. The flip side is that, outside of Graves, I’ve been blessed with good health. I fear what it would be like if anything else came up and just how expensive it would be.

    Thanks for sharing your tips, as I’m sure at one time or another we can all make good use of them.

  4. I hope the little one was all OK. Darn kids will always find ways to outfox adults! It just blows me away to think of health care costs like that. We do pay a higher tax rate in Australia, but in that situation we would be able to go to a public hospital emergency department for no cost. Don’t get me wrong, our healthcare system is far, far, FAR from perfect, and there may be post-treatment costs. I’m so grateful that we don’t have to be in the position of thinking “what will this do to us financially.”

    1. I know, kids can be such trouble! Good thing they’re cute. 😀 Many of us in the US are envious of the health care systems available overseas. Every approach to health care has advantages and disadvantages, but overall I personally think a higher tax rate would be worth the free health care for everyone.

      1. It’s almost like “pay yourself first.” We complain about tax rates, but by not seeing a $ amount at time of ‘purchase’, it feels like we are getting it for free. It’s not sustainable, though. The government can’t afford health. Now we have a co-pay for most GPs. Because it was free for so long, it has been a very unpopular decision.

      2. Wow, I didn’t know that! It’s similar to health care here in a way. We had health plans with low copays (like $10 a visit) for so long that these high deductibles of thousands of dollars cause many issueS/complaints. Many people just flat out can’t afford it. Those that can find it a strain on their budget.

  5. Yes I occasionally see patients with hdhps but I don’t know unless they tell me. I find that lots of patients want to have surgery (usually a hysterectomy) once they realize their deductible is met. I agree with you about having anything done in a facility owned by a hospital will cost you more. Doctors in general will try to save you money if they can. Most of us docs are in the dark about lots of costs unless someone complains.

      1. You know your own charges but not what the lab bills will be or hospital charges. The information is hard to obtain. I think hospitals and labs have a vested interest in keeping the charges opaque. I am personally disputing a $250 facility fee that my hospital lab charged me for simply drawing blood. In the typical case it is hard to determine if deductibles are met. My local bcbs has been updating this info for about a month. So something is ordered and it is hard to predict what the out of pocket costs will be

  6. Pricing transparency would go along way to reduce health care costs. I think just maybe HDHP are going to lead the way to make this happen. Just remember it is opaque to doctors also.

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