Shopping for healthcare takes a little research and know how but there is real money to be saved.
No one likes to pay more than they have to for anything.
Did you know you can buy car parts on Amazon? I didn’t until someone broke one of my tail lights and it looked like an easy DIY [Do It Yourself] project. I was able to find the exact part and as a Prime member got it shipped to me FREE. It was so easy that I couldn’t help but do a little more shopping.
Why am I telling you about shopping for car parts?
No one ever pegged me as someone who would buy car parts or attempt a DIY project on my car. Like many people, I have a trusted relationship with my mechanic and whatever repairs he recommends, I approve and pay him to do.
Similarly many Americans put their full trust in their doctors and approve their recommendations regardless of cost. However, that could change. My DIY project wasn’t as easy as it looked on YouTube. After breaking 3 finger nails and 2 screw drivers, I gave up and made an appointment with my mechanic. While there I decided to have a few more minor repairs done. This time I was speechless when I saw the quote. My mechanic quoted me 4 times [4x] the cost for the parts. How do I know? I remembered seeing the parts on Amazon.
A 4x markup is comparable to the markup routinely charged on high dollar supplies and implants in healthcare. The difference is healthcare consumers only pay a small portion of the marked up cost after the insurance discount and payment. I didn’t say anything to my mechanic at the time, but it made me realize that pricing transparency is a game changer.
Amazon for healthcare
Amazon has already announced plans to start selling prescription drugs. It’s going to take some work before they are ready to fill their first prescription but when they do, it could be a big cost saver for many Americans. There is currently no way to compare the cost of drugs at different pharmacies or covered by different health plans. Amazon could make it as easy as shopping for car parts by providing a marketplace for pharmaceutical companies.
Amazon already sells medical supplies.
Imagine how surprised my mechanic was when I drove into his garage with a trunk filled with parts. I had also purchased new lenses and seals to replace my cloudy headlight covers and was surprised when my mechanic refused to do the work. What I didn’t understand when purchasing the lenses was that changing only the lens would impair the integrity of the light and cause bigger problems later. He recommended a body shop if I absolutely wanted to do it. His refusal to do the repair requested may have been upsetting for some, but for me it spoke to his integrity as a trusted advisor. I returned the lenses and seals.
Can you see that scenario playing out if healthcare consumers start buying their own supplies and implants? Using the Amazon filters to narrow the options that are right for your make and model of car is easy enough but the process is still lacking the intelligence and judgement that you get from a highly trained professional. Let’s try not to imagine a medical DIY project guided by a YouTube video for now.
Amazon-like services available now
There are online pharmacies available now. If you do plan to purchase your prescription drugs make sure you buy from one of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites [VIPPS] otherwise you might not get a quality drug. To save money now, talk with your doctors about generics and bio-similar drugs that can save you money and ensure you get the right medication. You may also be able to qualify for patient assistance from a pharmaceutical company.
There are also web-sites that can give you “fair prices” for healthcare services including surgery. Fair prices are generated from historical claims data collected from participating companies, providers and payers.
Healthcare Bluebook is one of the sites available to consumers FREE and a good place to start your shopping. If you use the site, be sure to enter your Zip Code to get the prices for healthcare services offered near you and click on the Details to learn what’s included in the price. For surgery, the fair price on Healthcare Bluebook includes the fees for the facility [hospital or Ambulatory Surgery Center], surgeon and anesthesiologist plus all the supplies and implants. When the fees of different service providers are included in one price, it’s referred to as a bundle.
If you call a hospital or an ASC for a quote, ask them for a bundled price too. Chances are they have one that could save you money and make it easier for you to get your arms around the total cost and the billing.
You can also order many of your own lab tests through HealthcheckUSA.com or Quest Diagnostics to check your cholesterol, diabetes, colon cancer, prostate etc. without a physician order. The rates are comparable to cash rates which are often significantly less than the full price because the labs get their money from you at time of service.
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