Sunday, April 18

Could paying cash save you money on medical care?


Could paying cash save you money on medical care?

We shop online for everything from clothes to cars and can compare pricing before committing, so a Naples surgeon wants to make that same approach available to medical care.

Dr. Michael Havig, an orthopedic surgeon at Naples Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, said he came up with the idea after hearing his staff turn away patients who did not have insurance or who were out of network.

“And I’d say we can see them, we can charge them a cash price,” Havig said. But he said his medical billing staff at doctor’s offices and hospitals sometimes don’t know what to charge as a cash price.

The insurance companies set the pricepoint that doctors and hospitals are allowed to be reimbursed for services. According to Havig, medical providers are so ingrained in that third-party payer system that setting a cash or self-pay rate seems like a radical idea to many providers.

So he created HealthMeDocs, an online platform that takes the guesswork out of it for both the patient and the provider. The platform allows patients to shop for bundled services based on the type of care they may need.

For example, you can shop for a back care visit that includes an exam and X-rays and see what various doctors would charge.

There are also surgery packages available that include all pre and post-operative exams in one price.

“The groups we find are using the platform most are kind of those pre-Medicare age patients. We have a lot of those in Southwest Florida, people who retire from their jobs and they may not have benefits from their business anymore and so when they purchase insurance it’s very expensive because of their age,” Havig explained.

Those type of insurance plans could set out of pocket costs on those families as high as $20,000. On HealthMeDocs, a patient can purchase a surgery package for less than $10,000.

MORE: Palm Beach county mom has baby without insurance to save money

WINK News Cost of Care has covered several stories of people turning to self-pay options to save money on their medical costs. A Palm Beach County woman decided to drop her insurance policy and pay a pre-negotiated self-pay rate to have a baby in 2019.

A Lee County man flew to a cash-pay surgery center in Oklahoma to save money rather than having the procedure done locally through his insurance benefits.

MORE: Bye-bye health insurance: How direct primary care can save you money

And more and more direct primary care practices are popping up, which allow people to pay a flat rate for unlimited access to basic primary care and prescriptions.

“I think patients should be able to shop for their health care and be able to find a reasonable transparent price for basic services,” Dr. Havig said.

HealthMeDocs is hoping to host various specialties like cardiology and obstetrics and gynecology, but currently, there are only a handful of Orthopedic practices on the platform.

SEARCH: Direct Primary Care provider map

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney

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