Saving By Paying Cash At The Dr’s Office

Can you get a better deal than your insurance company can?

ye olde medical care

It may seem counterintuitive but, according to the WSJ, some consumers are finding that their doctors are offering deep discounts to them if they are willing to pay in cash.

When Nancy Surdoval, a retired lawyer, needed a knee X-ray last year, Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado said it would cost her $600, out of pocket, using her high-deductible insurance, or just $70 if she paid cash upfront.
When she needed an MRI to investigate further, she was offered a similar choice — she could pay $1,100, out of pocket, using her insurance, or $600 if she self-paid in cash.

Here’s the nifty chart the WSJ put together:

Let me assure you, this does not always work. Someone suggested I try it with the lab at which I was getting pregnancy tests done earlier this year, so I called the lab to ask how much of a break they’d give me to avoid dealing with my insurance company.

ME: How much is the 20-week anatomy scan?
BILLING DEP’T LADY: Well, it depends what we’ve worked out with your insurer, and even then it’ll vary. Who’s your coverage? OK, let me see what that has been in the past. Here it is: $275
ME: And what if I paid out of pocket? 
BILLING DEP’T LADY: … $313. 
ME: Ah.

Still, that’s no reason for you not to try the next time you have to go in somewhere to get checked out. Ask if they’ll take a check. Hell, ask if they’ll take a chicken. Let’s bring barter back!

In more fun health care news, an LA hospital’s records are being held hostage for over $3 million by hackers who want to be paid off in Bitcoin. (Whatever happened to a briefcase full of unmarked bills?) The easiest way to find the perpetrators might be to arrest everyone who’s ever used Bitcoin. It’s not that many people, after all.