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Health Savings Accounts–now you get a more realistic idea of the cost of care

08-08-2008 by Colleen King

Did you know that it doesn’t really cost $10 to see a doctor? The HMO plans have gotten people into the mind set that it’s only $10 to see a doctor. When you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) you have a much more tuned in idea of cost.


In HMO plans mainly, you have a fixed office visit co-pay that covers pretty much everything. On a PPO plan, the office visit co-pay generally covers the doctor visit alone, then you pay for any additional lab or xrays. That gives you a better idea of what things cost. When you have a health plan that is qualified to be used with an HSA, you pay for everything until you hit the deductible, then you have either full or partial coverage, depending on what your out of pocket maximum is. So what’s so good about that? At least, that’s what this lady is asking herself……




Well, HSA eligible health insurance plans have decidedly lower premiums and overall, the out of pocket maximum is less. So the money you aren’t spending on insurance, you deposit into your HSA. If you have a ‘good’ year medically speaking, then the money in the HSA stays with you. I’ve carried my health insurance this way since 2004 and it’s worked out nicely.


But what you really start to get a grasp of is the cost of care. Some insurance carriers a couple of years ago started posting pricing information on their web site, what they will pay for certain procedures in certain areas. Aetna was the first as I recall. Now that it’s YOUR money, not the insurance company’s most people are more interested in what services are going to cost.


How much time did you spend researching the cost of your last TV or computer purchase before buying? How much time did you spend checking out the cost of an office visit with a couple of doctors in your area? How about the quality of the TV, computer or doctor? I probably have the answer to the doctor question, and that’s okay; this is a new mind set for us, daring to question the almighty medical world. I recently received a nice comment from a lady, Mona Lori, whose web site you need to check out–www.OutofPocket.com. She started this web site in 2007 out of the frustration of having what’s called a Consumer Driven Health Plan, but not knowing how to best use it. Here’s what she said to me in an email:


“ OutOfPocket.com was definitely worth launching.  I have received so many great comments from consumers all over the U.S. about our dysfunctional health care system.  We do not have a critical  mass of consumers using the site yet, but if enough consumers eventually shared/posted actual prices they paid for routine health care services, collectively, consumers will have created a very powerful directory of true prices for health care services.”


So if you have an HSA, or even just a higher deductible PPO plan and you want to know how to get more bang for your buck, check out www.OutOfPocket.com. She is certainly gathering info still, but this will be a dynamic process, so bookmark her site!   Be well!




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