Some docs find way to discounts

In an effort to circumvent health insurance headaches, some doctors have switched to cash-only practices and are saving their patients big bucks in the process.

CNNMoney.com reports there are a small handful of physicians around the country who have set up membership-based programs that offer discounts on services to customers. The programs are all over the board in price — anywhere from $100 a year to $2,500 annually — depending on patient load and the level of personal attention you want. It’s a trend also known as “concierge medicine.”

By charging a membership fee, the doctors can then sell their various services to members at a deep discount.

How deep?

“By cutting out the middleman, [one doctor] said he can get a cholesterol test done for $3, versus the $90 the lab company he works with once billed to insurance carriers,” CNNMoney reports. “An MRI can be had for $400, compared to a typical billed rate of $2,000 or more.”

Interestingly, this is all happening at a time when the rise of health care costs has gone into pause.

The actual cost of medical care fell for first time since Gerald R. Ford was president of the United States. This is unusual, but I hope this becomes the norm for our country’s economic health.

And what’s behind the slowdown in health care spending?

Two things, I believe. First, employers are switching to high deductible health plans where you’re responsible for so many thousands of dollars upfront before the company picks up the tab. When that happens, you start to treat health care like a consumer and become more cost conscious. Second, generic drugs are on the rise, which keeps the cost of health care down.

Discount medications

A recent case ruling from the Highest Court in the Land will make a big difference in your health care costs to come.

The case involved what are called “pay-for-delay payments” or “reverse payments,” according to The New York Times.

Here’s how this plays out: Big pharmaceutical companies have a medication on which the patent is going to expire. So they have been going to companies that make generics and making them an offer they can’t refuse.

Basically, Big Pharma has been saying to smaller generic manufacturers, “We figure you’ll make $50 million next year selling our brand name as a generic. So we’ll pay you $100 million for you not to make the generic.”

Now the Supreme Court has put the kibosh on that. That means when expensive medications have their patents run out, you’ll be saving big bucks.

This will be a big savings to all of us when you consider that half of all health care is paid for by various levels of government!

X