Last week saw yet another study stating things no one will be surprised to hear — Out-of-pocket health care expenses for Americans are exploding. Shifting more and more costs to consumers is the next step as we continue to ineffectively deal with the health care crisis.. Almost all Americans (81%) now face a deductible, and they are rising faster than ever. If you find yourself in that situation, what can you do?
For starters, don’t throw away good money! Before you buy any health care service (see a doctor, get a surgery, buy a prescription) you deserve to know at least two things- what does it cost and what are the relevant outcomes. It’s your right to know, even if your insurance is paying! We happily publish such information on our website. There, you’ll see that while our prices are a small fraction of those charged at most hospitals, our patient satisfaction scores are through the roof.
Here’s one small illustration showing why patients love Charlottesville’s premier surgery center, MCSC. Dr. Morton, one of our eye surgeons, told us this morning about a patient who needed a special lens for cataract surgery. In most cases, special lenses are not covered by insurance and the extra expense must be paid by the patient. In this case, the patient was told the lens would cost $2100 if implanted during surgery at a local profit-driven hospital (in addition to the usual surgery costs!). At MCSC, we offer the exact same lens for $750 (essentially our cost). We don’t want to fleece people with unjustifiable mark ups. And we don’t.
How do others get away with this? It’s simple… because they can. Nobody calls them out on it. People pay it because they don’t believe they have a choice, and for far too long, it has been paid without question. Now is the time to recognize that YOUR dollars are the ones being spent, and you have the right to get the information you need to make an informed decision. This includes “How much does this cost?” If you get a delay or a refusal to answer this question, you have a right to keep looking for care.
Some people assume their insurance company will fight to keep prices down. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If health care costs rise, insurance premiums go up and the insurance company makes more money! Remember, the amount of profit made by insurance companies is fixed by law as a proportion of premiums collected. In other words, the only way for insurance companies to increase profits is to raise premiums. Thus, insurance companies love it when prices go up.
Enough already! Only educated consumers can fix this mess. Share this post so people will know that they have an alternative. Transparent pricing! Demand it and let’s finally get some accountability in healthcare pricing.