Healthcare Hustle: Balancing healthcare costs

I think everyone can agree that — at times — your healthcare bills can be a little hard to swallow. Should these rising healthcare costs really keep us out of the doctor’s office, or can balance be achieved?

I recently had a discussion with my child’s allergist about how I walked in to his office wanting to fix her reactions to insect stings — and walked out with what was practically a used Honda Civic payment.

Most of the time when I go down the “yellow brick budget road” with a doctor or their staff on the expense of healthcare treatment, the answer typically resembles “…Won’t your insurance take care of it?”  Yes, my insurance takes care of a portion, but I still have a responsibility in that bill.

How do we interact with our medical providers as conscious consumers that are concerned with budget, yet responsible to our health?

The risk of requiring doctors to be too conscious of budgetary constraints is that it could affect the way that they prescribe treatment. What if your doctor is so concerned about your wallet that the treatment offered doesn’t cover what you really need? I do not think we want budget brand quality when our lives are uncertain on the operating table, either.

Communication with your doctor is the key to balancing healthcare costs

Here’s some helpful tips to get you on the right path to communicating with your doctor and healthcare providers. These tips can help you focus on finding the right balance of quality care vs. healthcare costs:

  • Ask questions about cost, and if your insurance covers the procedure before committing – assuming it’s not a life-threatening health situation.
  • Call and inquire about their standard visit fee before you go.
  • Ask if there are other avenues of treatment available.
  • Ask if you can negotiate the price — there is no shame is asking for healthcare discounts.
  • Get a second opinion from another trusted physician.
  • Find out if “Teladoc” options offered through your employer for minor cases?
  • If possible, pay through an HSA. Contributions are pre-tax and payments for healthcare are not taxed. See here. https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969
  • Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – check with your insurance provider for preventative care that may be available to you at no cost, or low cost, before visiting the doctor.

Focus ultimately on quality of care over cost

Keep the doctor’s main concern focused on the quality of care — and you take care of due diligence for your wallet. Remember that your health is priceless, but this does not mean you can’t be informed and work to balance the costs.

Your reward for being a conscious consumer is being a happier and more informed patient. You’ll understand more about the impact of your healthcare expenses, and the options you have available to you.

 

February 2018