Shop Around

Here is an article explaining by Julie Appleby on how some “right-to-shop” laws are helping people save money. In principle, I love this but I am worried that it can seem forced and could get weird real fast.  We see what insurance companies have done with “narrow networking” to force patients to pick “their” doctors.  But they are saving the patients money, right? Nope. It’s extortion.  That being said, this may be different and here are some things in the article:

  • Laurie Cook went shopping recently for a mammogram near her home in New Hampshire. Using an online tool provided through her insurer, she plugged in her ZIP code. Up popped facilities in her network, each with an incentive amount she would be paid if she chose it. Paid? To get a test? It’s part of a strategy to rein in health care spending by steering patients to the most cost-effective providers for non-emergency care.
  • Maine’s law, adopted last year, requires insurers that sell coverage to small businesses to offer financial incentives — such as gift cards, discounts on deductibles or direct payments — to encourage patients, starting in 2019, to shop around.
  • A second and possibly more controversial provision also kicks in next year, requiring insurers, except HMOs, to allow patients to go out-of-network for care if they can find comparable services for less than the average price insurers pay in network.

I like this but I want insurers out of the game.  I don’t want them just raising their deductibles forcing us to find the cheaper drug, cheaper CT scan, and cheaper procedures all the while THEIR RATES STAY THE SAME OR GO UP!  Do you see the scam going on?  They are using the free market against us while they continue to gouge us.

I want transparent prices.  I want patients to be able to use some tools to figure out which doctors to go to (word of mouth, statistics, referral by another doctor and even ratings) so they can shop around.  I want insurers to just cover catastrophic occurrences and let the free market work.  It’s not perfect but it is directionally accurate.

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