Skip to main content

The Parable of the High-Deductible Health Plan and the Careful Shopper

I carry - and pay for - my own health insurance now that I'm self-employed and don't have some rich health system footing the bill.  Though generally healthy, I do take meds for cholesterol and seasonal allergies, wear contact lenses and faithfully keep up with the routine screenings recommended for an old fart. 

My plan is a Blue Cross high-deductible plan where I carry the first $2,500 of financial responsibility.  Man, overnight that turned me into a different kind of patient and health care shopper.

No more Zocor for $90 a month.  Now it's WalMart's generic statin for $5.  (I've always hated WalMart and don't know which is worse; the price of setting aside that hate or the fact that the price is so low.)

No more going where my doctor tells me for lab tests and EKGs.  His in-house phlebotomist is convenient but pricey.  The hospital up the street is service-constipated, their billing is aggressive and nasty and their prices are worse - when they know what the prices ARE.

Suddenly I've got other labs and testing facilities falling all over me to extend discounts.  Two percent for cash?  Not good enough?  How about a 50% discount on all fees - facility and professional - and 60 days to pay?  Sold!

Maybe an expanded business opportunity for the "buyers agents" out there- expert negotiators who assist people like me in finding the best self-pay deals.  And a new opportunity for growth-focused health care strategists.   There's lots of would-be customers looking for a price.  Customers just like me.  Well, better looking perhaps, but you know what I mean.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at hhnmag.com offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

Another Day, Another App, Another Satisfied Customer

How might health care providers use technology to turn customers' mobile phones into information displays and ordering devices? A few years ago, the NY Times outlined how retailers are doing it...
"(Designer Norma) Kamali is at the forefront of a technological transformation coming to many of the nation’s retailers. They are determined to strengthen the link between their physical stores and the Web, and to use technology to make shopping easier for consumers and more lucrative for themselves.
...

Cisco Systems, the supplier of networking equipment and services for the Internet, is also a leader in the field. The company’s Mobile Concierge system is capable of connecting customers’ smartphones to retailers’ wireless networks — so a shopper could type “Cheez Whiz” into a cellphone, then pinpoint its location in the store." Ms. Kamali's boutique installed a technology called ScanLife, "allowing people to scan bar codes on merchandise and obtain details about the…

Why Change Happens, Or Not

From LinkedIn: