The Need For Consumer Driven Health Plan Education Is More Important Than Ever
With an increase in the number of employer groups choosing to offer a Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) to their employees [i.e. A Qualified High Deductible Health Plan (QHDHP) coupled with a Health Savings Account (HSA), or an Employer Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)], employees and their dependents are becoming more aware of the actual costs for health care services.
Shielded over the years by co-pay type health plan options, there has been little need to understand the cost of services provided.
It’s not only consumers of those health care services who have not had a reason to be mindful of costs, but medical providers as well.
Earlier this year, my husband was referred by his primary care provider to have a CAT scan of the abdomen. His provider is associated with a large health system and referred him to the radiology department within the hospital. Unfortunately, I was preoccupied with my mom’s failing health at the time and was unable to have a discussion with him prior to his going for the test. I learned afterwards that he had the test performed in the hospital radiology department vs. in a free-standing radiology facility. The difference in cost? An astounding $1,200 compared with $450 out of pocket cost had he gone to the free-standing radiology facility. There was no difference in the diagnostic test itself. Ouch!
Here are three ways that employees/consumers can take charge of their health care spending and out of pocket costs:
Ask more questions and discuss treatment options with their doctor.
Doctors are rarely versed in the actual difference in costs for services or prescription drugs. Being a better consumer means requesting that the provider assist them in saving on out of pocket expenses.
Research the cost of treatments and procedures and seek the best care in terms of quality and value.
Health Insurance carriers have created online pricing tools that provide transparency and an opportunity for their members to compare out of pocket costs between places of service. Have your employees register for an online account with your carrier and become familiar with all of the pricing comparison tools that are offered to them.
For prescription medications, the online tools and formularies available can be resources for finding generic alternatives or lower cost brand name drugs.
In addition, your employees can check out the no cost RX apps for mobile available such as GoodRX, to compare pricing.
There are many benefits to CDHPs to an employer, employees and their dependents. The success of a CDHP is largely dependent on clear and consistent communication by companies to their employees about plan specifications to help their employees and dependents stay engaged and become savvier consumers of their health care choices.