How Do I Become A Better Health Care Consumer?

You may be familiar with the shift in the health care market towards “consumer-driven health plans,” or CDHPs. While I discuss what these are in other posts, it is important to recognize the role the individual plays in this shift (hence the term “consumer driven”).

As you may have already seen at your local Costco or Walgreens, health care services are being offered in traditional retail establishments, priced at rates equal or better than you can find through a traditional stand-alone doctor’s office. I’ll save the economic rationale as to why this should be expected, and emphasize here how you can best use your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account. In brief, the healthcare business is now open for business.

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If you participate in a CDHP, be as smart with your health “purchases” like doctor visits, blood tests, MRIs and mammograms, as you would your everyday expenses like groceries, car maintenance or dining out – and don’t forget to check which doctors and services are in network versus out of network, as this factor alone could double your out of pocket cost.

Get in the habit of asking how much the service will be before you visit the doctor’s office. If you don’t like the amount, call another one while quoting the price of the first. I promise it won’t be long before you find someone who will beat the first quote. Further, this process will be even easier next year, and the year after that, as more of your friends, relatives and neighbors start shopping around too. For now, I recommend searching the internet using keyword terms such as “discount MRIs,” “affordable mammograms,” etc. Google will show you: affordable health care is out there.

Happy health consuming!