3 Ways To Save On Health Care
“Home Economics” as I know it, was a great class to learn life-skills for everything from how to cook, and how to sow, to how to balance a checkbook. Today, “Family and Consumer Sciences” classes are on the decline, with enrollment down 38% over the past decade. Will the impact of today’s healthcare system have an impact on that?
Probably not. But, in light of this, here are three tips we should have all learned in either Home Economics of FCS (depending on how young or young at heart you are).
Tip #1: The bigger the building the bigger the bill.
Hospitals are among the biggest buildings in most communities. Often, they cannot be confined to a single building, and instead resemble a campus that many community colleges would envy.
Healthcare costs are highly variable within even a single community – however often, the most consistent denominator against the highest billers is that they are some of the largest buildings.
In the Northern Virginia market, a recent comparison with a leading PPO network showed that a local hospital resulted in costs of $1,685 for an MRI of the knee, compared to $335 at a near-by imaging facility. These are both after the network-discount provided by insurance.
Many Americans drive past these lower cost imaging centers for several reasons:
- When not sure where to start, may hospitals seem like the best place to begin the journey.
- Their doctor, who works for the hospital, refers them to the hospital
- Patients are given little direction, and are asked to pick from a list
Tip #2: Shop for prescriptions where you shop for peanut butter.
How many people regularly buy peanut butter at the pharmacy? No one, yet we often resort to going there to pickup medications.
With the growth of retail chain pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, etc) which are popping up on every corner, Americans who value convenience (especially drive-thru’s) may make a chain pharmacy their first choice for medications.
Consumer Reports has helped to release a number of articles on this topic, with one of their more recent write-ups being found here. Costco ranked #2 (behind www.HealthWarehouse.com), with Walgreen, Rite Aid, and CVS/Target coming in at the end of the pack at numbers 8, 9 and 10, respectively.
Tip #3: Get second opinions from better doctors.
This is likely the most sensitive and most elusive tip. The reason why is because healthcare, and who we trust for our medical advice is a deeply personal matter. Today, there are no consumer-based reports that streamline, consolidate, and give clear pictures on the overall quality of the physician.
The sites that are available generally tend to use subjective information (IE: bedside manner) as opposed to objective information, so proceed with caution – as even Dr. Christopher Duntsch (a.k.a Dr. Death) had a near perfect rating on these sorts of sites before they were taken down when the podcast was released.
Instead, we can offer these general tips to help along your healthcare journey:
- Ask questions. An abundance of data points to patients being overtreated. This TedTalk from 2019 revealed 4 key questions.
- Ask for help/referrals from trusted sources. This could even include your health plan, or an add-on solution to your health plan like an advocacy/concierge solution.
To help keep these handy, here is a downloadable pdf to assist with staying the course in your healthcare journey – whether for you or your Employees.
*Please keep in mind, these are generalizations, and not to be construed as medical, legal, or tax advice.