Did you know that the same MRI with the same quality and magnet strength can cost different amounts at different facilities? This is a true statement and is mostly based on the location of the imaging facility. And, these amounts can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars in difference and can really impact your out-of-pocket costs. Because of this, you should look at yourself not as a patient, but also as a consumer. We need to be better educated and make wiser decisions about where we are spending our health care dollars.
One such way to become better a consumer is to utilize an HSA, or health savings account. Many employers are moving toward this option and away from the traditional PPOs because of the rising costs in premiums. An HSA is a high-deductible plan in which the consumer has to pay 100% of the medical costs until the deductible is met. They can, however, make monthly contributions into this account and these contributions are both tax-deductible and roll over year after year. Additionally, employers are also able to contribute to these accounts, which help the funds build faster. All qualified medical expenses can be paid for with these monies and in most cases, there is a debit card that is tied to it for an easier transaction and no need to wait for reimbursements from the insurance company.
We need to inquire about the cost of lab work, tests, and imaging that our doctors are ordering. We need to make a phone call and ask the facility what a typical charge would be BEFORE going to get a procedure done. We are entitled to those answers and allowed to shop around for a facility that works best for our budget. We may need to travel an extra couple of miles to go to a stand-alone facility, but we could be saving hundreds of dollars. We search around for the best price on the car we are about to purchase, correct? We ask questions, compare prices, and even take test drives. If you do such extensive research on purchasing a car, you should do the same when getting medical treatment. We should no longer be a society that only goes to the doctor when we are sick. We should ensure that we have an annual visit with a primary care physician and that we complete all of the age and gender screenings that are recommended. Preventative tests are being covered by insurance companies, as it has been proven to lower health care costs and improve outcomes if a disease state is detected early rather than later. All of these preventative tests would be covered and not fall under the deductible for an HSA; therefore there is no reason that we are not becoming better educated about health care and health care costs and make more informed decisions about where are dollars are going. Bottom line, we should be making ourselves healthier while lowering our health care costs.
Here is a great website for comparing health care costs: http://www.mccart.com/Healthcare_Cost_Comparison.aspx. Good luck with your research! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask me how I can help.