Budgeting for healthcare costs is hard. Confusing insurance policies, a lack of price transparency and administrative obstacles make getting quality care for an affordable price seem almost impossible. Here are three anecdotes from real patients who struggled to navigate their insurance plans and overpaid for medical services.
The solution to these costly issues? Knowledge really is power. The more clear, easy-to-understand information patients are armed with, the more likely they are to save on healthcare costs.
- Confusing Co-pays
This problem described by a patient on bogleheads.org, an online investing advice forum, is a common one: the patient doesn’t understand how copay works. The health insurance arena is full of confusing jargon, and complex policies that leave many consumers clueless about how much of their medical costs they are actually responsible for paying out-of-pocket. Namely, this lack of transparency is affecting the pockets of the majority of Americans who don’t have the time or information they need to get the quality care they desire at a price that is affordable for them. Patients need to understand how much medical services cost so that they are empowered to “shop around” for their medical treatments and insurance plans in the same way they would shop for any other service.
- Overcharging for Antibiotics
Sky-high prescription drug prices have been a hot topic in healthcare news recently. It is no secret that some life-saving drugs can cost patients thousands of dollars per year. Therefore, it is extremely important that drug prices are transparent so patients can make informed decisions about how to budget for their healthcare needs. In this case described in an article on The Independent Pharmacist, the patient paid $45 dollars out-of-pocket while the insurance company received $16.23 of the consumer cost despite contributing nothing toward the cost of the medications. The problem here is threefold: the patient’s premium doesn’t cover the cost of the drugs, the patient overpays for the medication and the insurance company doesn’t disclose pricing information to the patient. Had the patient been more informed, he likely would have asked for cash pricing options – a payment method many consumers don’t even realize they have.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the administrative process that comes along with receiving medical care, especially when dealing with timely medical procedures that are life-saving or that greatly improve quality of life. This anecdote cited in a New York Times article is just one of many examples of how administrative complications can result in unanticipated medical bills. The patient failed to fully understand the cost of his surgery until after it was complete, relinquishing him of his ability to negotiate a more reasonable price. Again, improving price transparency is key to preventing consumers from getting saddled with medical bills that break the bank. Patients need to know what a medical procedure, treatment or doctor visit will cost them BEFORE they consent to it.
At SingleCare, we believe healthcare costs should be as transparent as possible. Our website gives users the information they need to make smart decisions about their healthcare spending by enabling them to compare provider rates and eliminating the administrative bloat that often comes along with doctor visits.