Monday, May 16, 2011

Mo' Money Mo' Choices


Think of all the ideas put forth during the health care "debate" about how everybody should try to get the best "deal" on their care. That presumes that people (who are sick, by the way) have time to call doctor after doctor and hassle office manager after office manager for prices on stuff, and I don't know about you, but my doctor's office generally acts like money doesn't exist, so trying to get them to show me the price tag is an all-day endeavor.



Dante said...

I had the experience of shopping around for electricity for the first time recently. I put in my zip code and it gave me a list of companies, their basic rates, and a link to their complete pricing structure. I then picked a company, followed the link to their website, put my info in, and hit submit. And to think I could've used that 5 minutes to watch part of a Keanu Reeves movie...

I'd argue that we already shop around for doctors and health care. Most insurance companies have a list of in-network and out-of-network providers. You can bet your ass I'm not going out-of-network unless there's a really good reason to do so since the difference is me paying a $25 co-pay in-network vs. 70% of total cost out-of-network.

I've just started shopping prescription drug prices. Instead of a tiered co-pay system like I had in my last policy, this one has a tiered percentage insurance pays vs. what I pay out of pocket. So instead of the $10/$25/$50 tiers, I get 60%/40%/20% tiers. That makes the CVS a lot less attractive than Sams Club now where before it made no difference. For convenience sake, I'm sure I'll still hit up the CVS occasionally, but only when the difference in cost isn't significant.

As far as doctor's office prices, it will make no difference until it hits the consumer's out-of-pocket. Right now doctor's offices act like money doesn't exist because so few people actually ask. Car dealerships wouldn't advertise prices either if they knew you would just be bringing a $25 co-pay to the table and your insurance would pay them behind the scenes.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Everything you bring up is a good point, but it also demonstrates what was being written about at First Draft.

I had the experience of shopping around for electricity for the first time recently.

(Must be nice not to live under a monopoly. I miss Walton EMC.)

Your search for electricity included a computer and internet access. That's one point they were making at First Draft. Not everyone has the access or information literacy required to perform such a search.

Shopping around for in-network health care providers assumes access to two important things: 1) health insurance, and 2) availability of providers.

Shopping prescription drugs also assumes access to some sort of prescription benefit, the information literacy to understand the policy, and the membership to Sam's Club to get out from under the CVS' prices.

Where I live, it is a pain in the ass to get to Sam's Club, and I have a very nice vehicle. If I was to go on foot or transit, it would eat up the majority of my day.