Hospitals And Doctors Give Deep Discounts If You Don’t Use Your Health Insurance
“It frustrates people because there’s no correlation between what things cost and what is charged,” a health care researcher tells the LA Times about the news of hospitals and doctors charging dramatically lower rates to people who are paying cash for their treatment.
It is frustrating, but prices that don’t reflect costs are what happens when you disconnect the consumer from costs.
Unknown to most consumers, many hospitals and physicians offer steep discounts for cash-paying patients regardless of income. But there’s a catch: Typically you can get the lowest price only if you don’t use your health insurance.
That disparity in pricing is coming under fire from people like Snyder, who say it’s unfair for patients who pay hefty insurance premiums and deductibles to be penalized with higher rates for treatment.
The difference in price can be stunning. Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400.
When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.
That most Americans aren’t aware of these deep discounts is proof of my point, which is that Americans really aren’t all that aware of what their health care costs. For most Americans, health insurance is something provided by a third party, be it an employer or a family member or the government. They don’t shop for their policies. They don’t bear the brunt of the premium cost. Those things are usually done by the employer.
Sure, we pay out-of-pocket expenses and a portion of our premiums, yet when we go to the doctor or the hospital we fork over our insurance card and don’t think about it.
The health care industry gets away with charging far more to insurance companies than to individuals paying cash because of this disconnect. If we were all directly responsible for our own health care costs it would be a much different situation, something reflected in the lower prices for cash patients.
Which just goes to show that the solution for health care in America isn’t government intervention, but rather the promotion of health care as an individual responsibility.Tags: Health Care, health insurance, obamacare