Shop Providers for the Best Price
Have you noticed a few trends in the first six tips of the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare? Shopping, asking questions, and engaging in the healthcare process. Just like you shop for a new car or home, it is imperative that you become and EHC – an Engaged Healthcare Consumer. By learning about each of the ten tips and then taking three minutes to complete the Personal Spending Reduction Tool online at SpendLessOnHealthcare.com, you are guaranteed to start saving money for your family (the tool comes with a $5,000 annual savings guarantee or your money back).
Download the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare and start saving today.
Just as I described in Tip #4 and #5, doctors in the current healthcare climate are very competitive and want to keep all patients in their practice, so they are more likely to be very responsive to you. When it comes time for you to get a surgery, test or other procedure, there are at least two obvious questions that need to be asked:
1). Which facility do you recommend and why?
2). What are the rates of each of the various providers for this procedure?
As we discussed briefly in the article about Tip #5 on “asking your doctor for guidance,” many doctors are part of a medical group that is contracted and financially incentivized to send all imaging (MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, etc.) to a specific high-priced provider or a health system owned medical group that requires the imaging referrals be sent to the hospital which is much more expensive than outpatient providers in most cases. When this is the case, it is almost a certainty the doctor will not refer you elsewhere unless you inquire, ask, compare, and request the lowest price provider. The doctor usually will know the difference in prices without having to research, but will often make up some excuse as to why they prefer sending you to a higher priced provider – usually referencing quality and reliability and often “that’s my primary facility as I am there every day.” If the doctor insists on the more expensive facility, then refer back to Tip #4 and ask if he or she will request a discount from that facility on your behalf as otherwise you prefer being referred to a lower cost provider.
In general, outpatient procedures and facilities are going to be significantly cheaper for the same service in an inpatient facility. There are also Centers of Excellence, similar to “in-network” providers that you need to be aware of. Rely on your insurance company initially, but then check with your doctor to get further input on the actual cost options for you as your insurance company has much different incentives than simply being your lowest cost option. Refer back to prior tips when shopping facilities for a procedure as well:
- Tips #3: Ask about cash rates
- Tip #4: Negotiate
- Tip #5: Ask your doctor for guidance
- Tip #6: See if your employer will pick up the cost of your deductible in exchange for you picking a lower cost Center of Excellence (as their costs are much lower as well)
Your doctor is very knowledgeable on the healthcare industry. Involve them in your decision-making process and rely on their expertise, but don’t be afraid to ask for alternatives as well. As we already identified, doctors will often refer you first to the most expensive provider. They can help you determine necessity, options, alternatives and also help you shop and compare facilities, as well as, specialists and other providers. Your doctor is one of the most educated weapons you have in your process of becoming an EHC – an Engaged Healthcare Consumer.
So, when it comes time for a surgery, test, procedure or hospital visit, utilize all of the prior tips to help you master Tip #7, which is to shop for the lowest cost provider. Our not-for-profit foundation also offers links to several healthcare websites that can help you price compare procedures at different facilities and find a Center of Excellence that will work for you. Just visit the Partners Portal at SpendLessOnHealthcare.org to check out the comparison and shopping websites.
Now that you have the first seven free tips in your back pocket, you are learning they are all related and essential in becoming an Engaged Healthcare consumer. Download the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare, and start saving today. And don’t forget to take three minutes to complete the Personal Spending Reduction Tool to see if you qualify for our $5,000 annual savings guarantee.