“Do you have your insurance card?”
“Yes, I do, but I’m not using it today! I’m paying in cash. Yes, ma’am, I am!”
Have you ever had that conversation at a health care provider’s office? No? And you’ve never even considered doing so? Well, maybe you should reconsider … possibly.
There are many benefits of paying cash for health care services, even if you do have insurance. On the other hand, there are some downfalls as well, so you should weigh your options carefully ahead of time.
Keep the calculator on your phone handy as you consider the pros and cons of paying cash at the doctor’s office.
1. If you have an HMO plan, you will need referrals to specialists if you want to use your insurance. If you pay in cash, you don’t have to hassle with this process, for the most part. Some providers might insist on referrals anyway.
2. You might be able to save money. Yes, save money! Sometimes, an insurance company will only pay for particular brands, services, or physicians. When you’re making your own decisions, you can compare-and-contrast costs to choose the option that’s least expensive for you. In fact, you can use online sites, like mdsave.com, and apps to compare prices.
3. Many practitioners and organizations offer discount plans for patients. Think along the lines of coupons and monthly deals.
4. The check-in and check-out process at doctors’ offices might be faster and easier.
5. You may feel a certain sense of independence by making your own health care decisions, and you can have more control of your own finances. You’re not at anyone else’s mercy.
1. You likely already are paying monthly premiums for health insurance, so not using your insurance may feel like a waste of those premiums.
2. Cash payments won’t count toward your deductible. Meeting a certain deductible means future medical visits and procedures would require no or lower co-payments; if you pay cash, you might never meet that deductible.
To help you decide what’s best for you, think about how much you expect to spend in medical services for the year. If you think you will meet your deductible and still need more services throughout the year, using your insurance card might make more sense. If you don’t anticipate meeting the deductible nor needing to use your medical insurance beyond your deductible, paying cash for health care services might be more economical if it would save you money.
3. You will have to urge your health care provider to tell you how much the service would be if you paid cash. Afterward, you would have to research your options, as noted above, to find the best deals for you.
4. We said being able to have control of your services is a benefit, and it definitely can be. But it can also be stressful and complicated, as there are many options to consider. Letting go and letting your doctors and insurance companies make the decisions for you may give you some peace of mind, even if it’s not the best choice from a financial perspective. In other words, is all the research worth it? If so, great!
To learn more about the benefits of paying cash for health care services, contact an employee benefits professional at Michigan Planners. We can offer guidance regarding your specific questions.