Extreme Couponing Healthcare Style
The consumer-driven healthcare (CDHC) trend is a positive force in this transition. Not only does it empower the individual to make the right choices for personal well-being, but it also sets the system up to work more efficiently by encouraging that kind of decision-making at every level. Basically, it puts the incentives in the right places for individuals, providers and employers to take responsibility for the elements they can control. This new reality gives consumers a reason to keep costs down by avoiding unnecessary care, staying healthy and participating in disease management programs. Most importantly, it encourages the consumer to comparison shop not just for quality, value and service, but for price, by negotiating lower fees with physicians or insisting on generic prescriptions.
Avoiding Black FridayThe day after Thanksgiving there is utter chaos as people comparison shop to find the best deals at the right time. Then, Cyber Monday came along and made shopping a whole lot less stressful. The same holds true in healthcare. As competition increases, innovations such as call-in health advice where an on-call nurse evaluates symptoms are created to help patients determine whether to rush to the doctor or wait a few more days. Third-party providers are now offering easy-to-navigate databases of health data designed to assist patients with finding and comparing doctors and hospitals. This type of information puts power into the hands of consumers and forces health care providers to compete for business.
At the employer level, many companies are beginning to offer online calculators designed to plan and manage health savings accounts (HSAs). On the individual level, employees can save a lot of money by asking questions and searching for the most economic option that doesnt sacrifice value. Examples may include:
- Asking about cost for treatments and procedures
- Asking about alternative treatments
- Requesting generic drugs instead of brand name
- Calling around to find the lowest cost procedures, treatments and medications
- Searching online resources for quality and price comparisons
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