What Do You Mean My Health Insurance Is No Good Here?

A guy walks into a doctor’s office and says “I need a flu shot.”

“Sure thing. That’ll be $18, please,” says the receptionist.

“Do you take Cigna?” he asks.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t file any type of insurance here. Our flu shot is only $18, and we’ll give you a receipt that has everything you need to file a claim for credit toward your insurance deductible. You can even pay us with your Flex Spending or Health Savings account debit card, if you’d like.”

The guy picks up his Cigna ID, says, “I’ve never seen a doctor’s office that doesn’t take health insurance!” and walks out.

What’s the punch line, you ask? There isn’t one – this is no joke. It really happened a few weeks ago at my office.

I wish I had been at my reception desk. I would have asked him: “Excuse me, sir. Have you bought any windshield wiper blades lately? They’re a lot more than $18, you know.”

My point is that nobody – not even this dude – would ever dream of walking into a tire shop, throwing down their auto insurance card, and saying, “I’ll take that $1,000 set of new tires, and put it on Allstate.”

No, we somehow manage to get our oil changed, fix our tires and yes, even change windshield wiper blades from time to time without invoking any form of insurance. So why do we expect, insist – even demand – to have something as routine as a flu shot covered by health insurance?

(As an aside, the Affordable Care Act now mandates that insurance companies pay for all immunizations, including flu shots. Yay. Care to guess what that will do to the price?)

Our problem is that we don’t think of health insurance as, well, insurance, to be used only when things go really wrong – like a car accident, a heart attack, or long-term cancer treatment.

Instead Americans have been taught – more like brainwashed – to believe that “rising costs” mean that we can’t get health care without health insurance.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Health care doesn’t have to be expensive.

But by using health insurance to “cover” routine, maintenance health care like doctor’s visits, labs, x-rays (even MRI’s!), and most prescriptions, the prices are high. These things wouldn’t be costly if they were paid for out of pocket. Just like oil changes, fan belts, and wiper blades.

Now, I realize that there is a difference between taking care of people’s health and taking care of their cars, but comparing how health insurance should work to how auto insurance does work is totally legit.

And just like auto insurance, we need health insurance. We just need to start using it correctly.

 

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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