On, July 11, 2016, President Obama published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In it, the President gave a surprisingly objective report on the Affordable Care Act, its successes, and next steps. This has, once again, sparked discussions from all corners of the country about obtaining affordable medical care.
In the journal article, President Obama stated that the “uninsured rate has declined by 43% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015.” However, when faced with these statements, many American consumers should consider the following:
When the President said that there are more insured Americans than there were five years ago, he wasn’t wrong. The uninsured rate, as mentioned in his journal article, is at an all time low. Yet, when the ACA or “Affordable Care Act” was enacted, it changed the playing field for consumers. This means that when whatever insurance carrier you select, whether it be Blue Cross or Cigna, the insurance card in your wallet doesn’t have as much purchasing power it once did.
In fact, if you are paying $312 per month for insurance with a high deductible1 you will still have to pay the entire office visit just to see your primary care physician to get something as simple as a course of antibiotics. This continues every time you go to the doctor until you hit your premium. Then, and only then, do you pay the co-pay that you are familiar with from insurance plans. And FYI: if you’re an even somewhat healthy individual you will most likely never hit your annual deductible which means you pay out-of-pocket for your premiums AND all of the services under your deductible.
Doesn’t sound so affordable does it? At least it is not for a normal twenty or thirty something working an alright paying job. Which, let’s admit, is most of us right now. The thing is, there are solutions to the high price of health insurance and the cost of healthcare services like office visits, prescriptions and procedures. The first of those would be to consider a cheaper plan with a high deductible that will cover big things like emergency hospitalizations and serious illnesses. This covers big health events, for example, in a case where you don’t look both ways while trying to catch that Pikachu in the middle of the street.
Another option — and bear with me, because this very notion might scare a lot of you (it scared me): pay cash! Yes, since you will likely never hit your deductible, you can actually get better prices for your health care services by paying cash. Turns out that most providers’ cash-pay prices are better than your insurance company’s negotiated rates. (in our subsequent Blog we will discuss the reason for this issue).
Kumba Health is a healthcare e-commerce website (like Expedia) where you can shop and buy healthcare at concrete prices. With a cash-pay, consumer-focused online marketplace, consumers meet doctors for best-in-class pricing. The service links you up to doctors in your area—including, but not limited to, primary care, family care, and specialists. When you sign up with Kumba you are given priority scheduling for appointments and have access to real prices that are often better than insurance prices. This allows you to gain confidence around finding a provider and not having surprises after you have your visit.
Long story short: keep your insurance card in your wallet for those unforeseen accidents (Pokémon is dangerous. Stay safe my friends!), but don’t be afraid of looking other places for affordable health care. Paying cash might have been frowned on last century, but it’s a brave new world out there and you can take control of your own care by signing up with a service like Kumba Health!