Cash is king, right? That old saying may not be as true these days as it was decades ago. But the good old dollar, fished out of your wallet, is royalty when forking it over for health care.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that many doctors and hospitals offer steep discounts for those who pay with cash, and forego use of their health insurance.
The paper cites a number of examples including cut-rate prices for colon surgery, CT scans, blood tests, and lab work.
Case in point according to the Times: a CT scan at one California hospital that costs $4,423 is $250 for a patient paying with cash. Other examples are equally dramatic.
As many people with health insurance probably know, deciphering medical bills, co-payments, premiums and employer-subsidized costs can be difficult. Even those with knowledge and patience find it challenging. Navigating what is widely considered to be a broken system is not for the faint of heart. But you don’t have to be a math expert to know that the CT scan example is a great deal -- if you’ve got cash!
So, should you forget the insurance and just pay from your pocketbook? That’s for you to decide. But if you have insurance, keep in mind that using cash might affect your insurance status in a number of ways.
Paying with cash, for example, won’t count towards the deductible. And be aware that you may, as the Times points out, have to withhold insurance information from service providers in order to get the cash discount.