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Cash vs. insurance: A little-known option could save you money on medical bills

February 13, 2019 5:49 pm | Published by

Original content from KTVB

Cash discounts for people who don’t have or use insurance could save patients hundreds, but healthcare providers are far from universal on what they allow and how much it can save you.

Healthcare and insurance is always a convoluted, confusing and expensive maze to navigate, regardless if you’re insured or not.

Even with insurance, many Idahoans have sky-high premiums and deductibles yet continue to pay so much out of pocket.

Due to how expensive healthcare costs are, people are turning to a little-known payment method that could save patients hundreds of dollars if they know their options.

Paying bills with cash versus using insurance.

Some health care providers’ cash or self-pay discounts are cheaper than what you’d pay using your insurance. People with high deductibles are finding it’s better to pay their bills with cash or card than let billing departments send it to their insurance.

Insurance does have an important role in case anything catastrophic happens, so this is not an encouragement to stop having insurance. Be aware of your options though and know if you ask a couple extra questions, it could save you hundreds on medical costs.

Dr Brian Affleck speaks with KTVB about Cash Pay Discounts

“The biggest reasons that we see discounted prices in cash pay is because as an institution we get paid earlier and we get paid more and we can put money to work better and more effectively,” Dr. Brian D. Affleck, a physician with Saltzer Medical Group said. “When you are looking at insurance there almost always are delays and, in fact, if I submitted a bill today it probably would be 90 days or greater before we would actually see that money.”

Dr. Affleck says Saltzer does allow insured patients to get the cash discount. 

“There’s no reason that we wouldn’t because if it’s good for the patient and it’s good for us,” Affleck added. 

Do ‘the ask’

To get a discount you must ask what healthcare providers’ and health care systems’ cash, self-pay or uninsured discounts are.

“The patient would need to ask for it though and, you know, most cash payers are going to do exactly that: they’re going to tell us ‘I want to pay cash’ and then it opens a whole variety of options to us for them specifically. But you’ve got to do the asking,” Dr. Affleck said.

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This post was written by Saltzer Health