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Many hospitals, doctors offer cash discount for medical bills
LA Times ^ | 27 May 2012 | Chad Terhune

Posted on 05/29/2012 12:10:54 PM PDT by Theoria

The lowest price is usually available only if patients don't use their health insurance. In one case, blood tests that cost an insured patient $415 would have been $95 in cash.

A Long Beach hospital charged Jo Ann Snyder $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis after colon surgery. But because she had health insurance with Blue Shield of California, her share was much less: $2,336.

Then Snyder tripped across one of the little-known secrets of healthcare: If she hadn't used her insurance, her bill would have been even lower, just $1,054.

"I couldn't believe it," said Snyder, a 57-year-old hair salon manager. "I was really upset that I got charged so much and Blue Shield allowed that. You expect them to work harder for you and negotiate a better deal."

Unknown to most consumers, many hospitals and physicians offer steep discounts for cash-paying patients regardless of income. But there's a catch: Typically you can get the lowest price only if you don't use your health insurance.

That disparity in pricing is coming under fire from people like Snyder, who say it's unfair for patients who pay hefty insurance premiums and deductibles to be penalized with higher rates for treatment.

The difference in price can be stunning. Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400.

When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.


(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: bills; california; cash; economy; healthcare; hospital; obamacare

Cash is always king.

1 posted on 05/29/2012 12:11:10 PM PDT by Theoria
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To: Theoria

There is no way the present hairball of Gov’t spending, insurance, etc... with regards to medical care will ever be dismantled willingly. It will only collapse or die a natural death over a very long time.

If we are lucky, a free-market option will be allowed to evolve naturally alongside. Politicians will likely do there best to ban it, and let’s hope it doesn’t become a black market. Its where we are headed anyway - lets just hope our Gov’t doesn’t make it too difficult.


2 posted on 05/29/2012 12:15:16 PM PDT by PGR88
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To: Theoria

We have a $10,000 deductible on our insurance, so I am always looking for places that will take cash for procedures. We go to a place for x-rays that are a fraction of the cost of going through the insurance company. I just had my shoulder xrayed for $35. I had blood tests done recently that were $49 each. The woman I spoke to suggested adding another test (for diabetes) and said it wouldn’t cost me any more because they have a Buy One Get One Free deal.


3 posted on 05/29/2012 12:18:11 PM PDT by cantfindagoodscreenname (I really hate not knowing what was said in the deleted posts....)
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To: cantfindagoodscreenname

Yep, just pay cash. Submit the bill to your insurer and get it credited toward your deductible or even reimbursed.


4 posted on 05/29/2012 12:20:49 PM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
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To: Theoria
This has been known and practiced for decades

Am from Orange County, and during times finding myself uninsured, took myself and family to doctor visits and paid at or slightly above the usual co pay.

My daughter fell from a play slide and broke her wrist. Hospital going rate was far below (80% ??) insured rates. 1987?

I remember for years Limbaugh pounding this point home regularly. And since I personally experienced it, made me realize how totally and completely corrupt our system is.

5 posted on 05/29/2012 12:27:07 PM PDT by saywhatagain
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To: Theoria

A local friend has done this quite a few times. Fact is, it costs care providers a LOT of money to deal with insurance companies and the government. When you pay cash as you would for a loaf of bread, they can charge half as much sometimes and make as much or more profit.


6 posted on 05/29/2012 12:31:34 PM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Theoria

The hospitals almost HAVE to bilk the insurance companies for every dime they can. The administrative costs associated with every insurance claim add a huge cost to the care received; and then there is the major reason that no one in California has the guts to mention.

Un-insured Illegal Aliens who use the Emergency Room as their primary care provider and the Ambulance as a taxi service. Why pay for medical treatment? The “Gringos” owe it to the Mexicans because Whitey is rich and Mexicans are poor. (their justification, not mine). In San Antonio, the Ambulances are referred to as the Mexican Taxi-Cabs. Need a lift somewhere? No problem, call 911, request an Ambulance - get near the hospital and demand to be released ... one nice, free ride with great service.


7 posted on 05/29/2012 12:35:45 PM PDT by Hodar (Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.- A. Schopenhauer)
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To: Theoria
I'm not surprised, it takes the doctors or their assistants hours to penetrate the insurance bureaucracy.
That's despite the fact they know how to do it. They'll rather not deal with it at all if they can.
Of course the politicians will resist this, if not outlaw it altogether, since it takes away the state's control.
They will spin it as if "The Rich" still has the inside track at the doctor's office.

8 posted on 05/29/2012 12:38:26 PM PDT by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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To: Theoria

My daughter’s husband was between jobs and she was visiting me. She popped a super sore throat that we both figured was strep. She HAD to go to the doctor. I took her to my doctor and told them I was paying cash for her visit.

She was seen by the doctor, had a throat culture, was prescribed antibiotics (culture was positive), and had a follow-up visit.

My out-of-pocket expense? $35. I’m a believer.


9 posted on 05/29/2012 12:39:06 PM PDT by FrogMom (There is no such thing as an honest democrat!)
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To: Theoria

That’s why the push to get everyone into an insurance plan. The insurance companies pocket the premiums as their customers choose to just pay cash rather than use their insurance card. But in order to pay with cash, you still have to have paid the extortion for that insurance card. Suprise Surprise


10 posted on 05/29/2012 12:55:08 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: Hodar
Not exactly how that works. Unless the hospitals submit false claims, they can only bill the insurance company that which is predetermined by a "schedule of fees"

Insurance companies along with doctors practicing non required medicine and then of course yellow belly lawyers and their exorbitant malpractice suits are complicit. Yes I agree, illegal aliens have forced hospitals to close their doors because Federal law requires them to be treated.

Here in Southeast Asia, you do NOT have to see any doctor to get "prescription" medicine. Name brand medication again costs probably 70% less than in USA.

Of course "medical tourism" is booming here.

11 posted on 05/29/2012 1:14:13 PM PDT by saywhatagain
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To: saywhatagain

Where in SE Asia are you located?


12 posted on 05/29/2012 1:20:49 PM PDT by what's up
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To: Theoria

Even if you have insurance you can negotiate the co-pay. I’ve done it twice. The woman who could have gotten a CT scan for $1000 and is being billed $2,000, needs to seng them a check for $400 with “paid in full” written on the memo.


13 posted on 05/29/2012 1:22:22 PM PDT by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." Peter Griffin - FAMILY GUY)
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To: Theoria
Looks like an under-the-table (so to speak) free market in medical care is ramping up.

This may be the catalyst which will end up undermining socialized medicine.

14 posted on 05/29/2012 1:22:45 PM PDT by what's up
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To: Theoria

I was billed $2,600 (10% co-pay per insurance guidelines) on a $26,000 bill. I found out the hospital had originally billed the insurance company over $90,000. I wrote the hospital and told them if they had agreed to a discount of $2,600 less then I wouldn’t owe anything. And I pointed out that nobody asked me if they could accept less money. They reduced my bill to $1000.

I’ve also gone to hospitals and offered cash for a discount and was turned down. But they agreed to a discount once the bill was mailed out.


15 posted on 05/29/2012 1:28:35 PM PDT by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." Peter Griffin - FAMILY GUY)
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To: Theoria

Makes all the sense in the world. Providers can spend tons of money and manpower doing paperwork to try and collect their money, months into the future, playing the insurance billing game.


16 posted on 05/29/2012 1:37:00 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: what's up
land of coups and most over hyped slogan ever known to mankind, "land of smiles." Bangkok.

Would not trade the experience, culture and the profound understanding for anything.But I do miss my children very much!

Thailand, like others areas of the world have try to specialize in "heart care" and i am thinking they are expanding there expertise in "cancer care"

My own experience has been uneven. I failed a "stress test" and the young doctor wanted to rush me into double bypass surgery without any other tests. I have a history of giving false positives. So i kinda knew to get out the door and run. LOL!

But there are many excellent stories and goodness that is taking place here in the medical industry. And if we in America would follow this and other examples, affordable health care could be had for all!

17 posted on 05/29/2012 1:41:33 PM PDT by saywhatagain
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To: Theoria
I am self employed and have paid for medical care in Northern California with cash since 2001. My wife has chronic condition (Crohn's) and they will not insure her. It has been an eye opener as to what a racket medicine is for all players. Had I been able to purchase insurance, my total for the past decade would have been north of $200,000. My cash outlay (I kept good records for taxes) has been in the neighborhood of $80,000. That figure includes two emergency room trips and a hospital stay.

I am not anti-insurance, I carry the maximum car insurance that USAA will sell me. However, I will not purchase insurance where the cost does not reflect the actual risk. So called "health insurance" is not insurance at all but rather a prepaid health plan. One that is grossly inflated to pay for all kinds of bizarre stuff mandated by the state. It may be different in other states (I don't know because I am not allowed to buy health insurance interstate, which raises the question why the Feds can regulate it at all) but in California health insurance at it's core is income redistribution and we will have none of it.

I have brought drugs in from Mexico and Canada and do not believe the FUD the health care complex spews for one minute; doing so is absolutely legal and they are absolutely the same drugs you get at your local pharmacy. Having shopped around for procedures I can tell you that LA for some reason (competition?) is a buyers market for cash healthcare. Something like a colonoscopy goes for $3500 on the central coast (1 hospital - no bargaining for cash), $1800 in the South Bay (San Jose) area and like $600 in LA. We just take a "medcation" road trip, stay in a deluxe hotel and still come out way ahead.

18 posted on 05/29/2012 1:50:02 PM PDT by atomic_dog
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To: saywhatagain
We lived in Singapore for several years and I have been to Thailand twice (beautiful but HOT!)

I have heard that Thailand is a great place for medical tourism. Haven't tried it yet but may be forced to at some point. I also heard that Costa Rica is excellent.

I definitely agree with you about the example other countries set for us in the area of health care.

19 posted on 05/29/2012 1:59:50 PM PDT by what's up
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To: what's up

>>I also heard that Costa Rica is excellent.<<

I heard that too. However, it may not be true, any longer.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2888105/posts


20 posted on 05/29/2012 2:13:52 PM PDT by Daffynition (Our forefathers would be shooting by now.)
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To: atomic_dog

Very similar circumstances. I used to fear not being insured. Being self-insured allows the freedom I needed to solve the problem (doctors who found the problem) both in the US and abroad. Being self-insured saved my life.


21 posted on 05/29/2012 2:33:09 PM PDT by bajabaja (Too ugly to be scanned at the airports.)
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To: saywhatagain

I was a contractor in Germany, and it was a known fact that German doctors liked having us as patients because we’d just flash the credit card and they got immediate cash that day. The German patient with German health care? Well...it’d be six to eight weeks down the road before he got that cash, and there could always be a disagreement about what was allowed. So a guy with the credit card got an immediate discount via their system (figure 30 percent minimum).

I personally think we have three problems with our current system.

First, there’s the lawsuit issue....where if you elected to sue someone and lose....you ought to pay all court and legal cost for the other party, and this would eliminate fifty percent of the medical legal cases we currently have.

Second, both Wal-Mart and Walgreens should offer a simple out-patient policy for $100 a month for a family, and $30 a visit. I think that would carve off half the stupid health insurance companies in America within two years who offer bloated policies that cost twice what they should.

Third, visits to the emergency room ought to immediately require a credit card...or cash....or no entry. These guys who walk in and have no credit and no cash....are forcing the rest of us to cover their lousy health care situations at the emergency room.

These three simple changes could be written up in eight pages and could have been passed by congress in two weeks. We didn’t need two thousand pages.


22 posted on 05/29/2012 2:59:13 PM PDT by pepsionice
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To: Daffynition

I’m not sure what McAfee being on the run in Belize has to do with health care in Costa Rica?


23 posted on 05/29/2012 3:08:16 PM PDT by what's up
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To: All

A few years ago I needed a throat culture, and paid $75.00 cash for it, which also included the dr. visit. On the same day, a teacher friend of mine took her daughter to the same doctor for a throat culture. She had insurance and she was charged $350

She too said something about the payment schedule and how it wasn’t right for her insurance to be billed that much when a cash payer was charged so little.

I don’t know what to say about it except that it happens.

Several years ago I had to take a family member to an eye doctor for a rare eye condition. For a while, we had to go daily. I paid the initial $45 fee, cash and they put it through the insurance company for me so that I received the payment directly. At the next visit, I took that $45 and paid the visit, for which I was reimbursed by the ins. company. I never had to worry where the money for the dr visit was going to come from and the only thing paid out of pocket was that one initial visit.

I guess it just depends on how the Dr. offices work things out. Sometimes things can work out quite well. I don’t think I ever did pay a co-pay on that deal.


24 posted on 05/29/2012 3:15:18 PM PDT by PrairieLady2
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To: saywhatagain

Yep. I benefitted several times from the ‘pharmacist’ in both Thailand and Laos. Fevers and stomach problems both cured up with anti-biotics from this simple system. Doctor, insurance, appointments? What are those?


25 posted on 05/29/2012 3:16:04 PM PDT by AlmaKing
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To: what's up

I’ve heard Thailand is a great place to find child prostitues too....infact, its a booming industry, sadly...


26 posted on 05/30/2012 9:58:54 PM PDT by cherry
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To: pepsionice
"These guys who walk in and have no credit and no cash....are forcing the rest of us to cover their lousy health care situations at the emergency room."

its federal law....a mandate...hospitals can turn away patients in an emergency....

27 posted on 05/30/2012 10:02:12 PM PDT by cherry
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