I’ve Said It Before…

And I’ll say it…again.

When it comes to health care – as in all other businesses – cash is King.

Or at least it should be. And yet when it comes to health care, it isn’t. Not yet.

Strange isn’t it? That so many of those who now have four-figure deductibles still think that a $20 copay will get them all the health care they could ever need?

Well, I hate to break it to these fine folks, but welcome to the 21st century, when your health insurance just ain’t what it used to be. If only Americans would understand…

But, they don’t. The idea of paying directly for a product or service is an incredibly easy concept that is familiar to everybody over the age of consent. Yet when applying this natural behavior to health care, it is incredibly hard to reprogram people who have been taught wrong, lied to, and cheated by the health insurance industry for so long.

So long, in fact, that they’ve learned to accept the whackiest, most outrageous ideas about not just who pays for it, but also how they get their health care in the first place.

Take health insurance networks, for example. I am amazed at how Americans will tolerate being told by a health insurance company that if they buy the right plan, then they will get to “keep” their doctor. It’s antisense. I mean, most folks I know wouldn’t accept being told by some corporation that they couldn’t go out for pizza tonight.

And yet those same folks will shake, shiver, and then shrug at the refusal of their health insurance carrier to cover a diagnostic test, authorize a life-saving treatment, or even, not “allow” them to keep seeing the doctor they’ve seen for years.

All because they think that with health care, they have no choice.

Well, Americans do have a choice. Because they don’t have any other, better choices. Not when it comes to the Pay Cash option. Since deductibles are in the thousands of dollars now it only makes sense to pay cash for most – if not all – of the health care services one receives each year.

By paying cash, patients can negotiate their own price for health care goods and services instead of getting “Balance Billed,” all the way up to the “Allowed Amount” that was negotiated between their health insurance plan, and the health care provider.

Paying cash also makes sense because, well, your health insurance plan most likely doesn’t pay anymore. Oh, you can buy the Silver or Gold option, but then you’ll most likely be spending thousands – to potentially save hundreds.

See, since it first came on the scene in the late 1940’s, health insurance has been misnamed. It wasn’t “insurance” at all. Instead, it functioned as a third party payer for decades, where patients paid the health insurer, who then turned around and covered all of the health care costs for those patients.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Nowadays health insurance has become a true, insurance product that closely resembles our car, or homeowners policies, where we pay premiums month after month, year after year, but almost never (hopefully) file a claim with the insurer.

This transition is by design on the part of the health insurance industry, who now enjoy the best of both worlds: you can either pay them thousands of dollars every year to have a high deductible plan that you will almost never use, or you can spend thousands more to have a plan that only gives you the illusion of better coverage (check out Dr. Wacasey’s Equation if you don’t believe me).

The days when your health insurance paid all the bills are long gone, and will probably never be back. So the next time you go to your doctor, have blood work performed, or need an MRI, try pulling out your credit card instead of your health insurance card, and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at just how much savings you can achieve by doing so.

In short, it’s time to accept health insurance for what it has become, and learn to shoulder health care costs ourselves. There is no choice. Because the cold, hard truth is that the health insurance and health care industries are never going to change their behaviors, until millions of Americans change their behaviors.

And the faster people do, the faster we will fix the Great American Health Care Dilemma.

It’s not the COSTS of health care that are outrageous…it’s the CHARGES.

Physician. Health Insurance Agent. Author. Health care humorist. Medical satirist. Disruptor. At your service. My name is Kevin Wacasey, and I’ve been practicing medicine since 1994. When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath to do no harm to my patients. To me, that includes financial harm. But since health insurance took over health care over 40 years ago, health care prices have skyrocketed. And despite what we’re told by the media every day, it isn’t the costs of health care that are outrageous; it’s the charges. So if you’ve ever wondered why we spend so much on health insurance and health care, then come along and join me as I explore the crazy world of Healthcareonomics. Health care doesn’t have to be expensive. Let me show you how. For speaking opportunities and to pass along your questions/comments, please email me at drw@healthcareonomics.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Charles

    I have been seeing a Dermatologist ever since I had a skin cancer (Melanoma ) discovered and removed a few years ago….I see him for a “check” every 6 months for about 8 years now. I have a Hmo/PPO from our local hospital. I have had the same insurance providers for years. Now I am 65 and have had a healthcare advantaged program for 2016. I just reviewed a bill from the program and they showed a charge for my 10 Min Max visit to the dermatologist of over $900.00. I only paid a minimal amount because of the Program I am on, but I asked myself; ” $900.00 for freezing some potential basil skin areas on my face which took only 10 min Max? are you kidding me? There has to be a better way.
    Thanks for reading.
    Chuck Lee

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