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What Is Your Health Insurance Actually Purchasing?

January 6, 2018

By Joel Bessmer, MD
Year after year, employers hand out unlimited company credit cards also known as medical insurance cards for their employees to purchase their medical care, and very few receive back any data showing what their employees actually purchased. Imagine you are a business owner and you hand one of your sales reps a company credit card to take a client out to dinner. If you later received a $10,000 bill from the restaurant, you would probably ask your sales rep and the restaurant to itemize the receipt so that you could see what caused that $10,000 charge. It only seems fair to you since you are the one paying the bill. Why, then, do we treat healthcare so differently? Even small employers are forced to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars without actually seeing what those dollars went towards purchasing.
If you’re a business owner or HR executive, you probably receive countless reports every quarter from your insurance carrier, but chances are those reports are not helpful at all. As a benefits manager (or benefits “optimizer” as we like to say) you should be able to view these numbers and charts in order to analyze your current spending, set goals for improvement and hopefully figure out ways to save money in the future. After all, if you are providing health insurance as an “employee benefit”, we think that you should be receiving information that would actually empower you to lower costs and improve the health of your employees.
If you are looking for an easy place to start, take a look at what you are spending for imaging services. Take MRI scans as an example. They are kind of a big deal, as over 35 Million of them are performed every year.  These scans can range in cost, coming out to $2,500 at many imaging clinics, and can even cost thousands of dollars more if you are in a hospital. But they don’t have to cost this much if you shop around and ask to pay cash instead of using insurance. At Strada Healthcare, we have negotiated deeply discounted cash prices on MRI scans and other procedures on behalf of our members. For example, an MRI non-contrast at one of our cash-priced partners costs only $399.00. Click here to see a larger list of our cash prices for other services.
So with that, I challenge you this new year to stop simply managing your benefits and begin to optimize them. Take the time to figure out where your dollars are going in the healthcare space and look for more affordable and convenient options. If you ask your insurance carrier for data and the report you receive is not good enough, talk with your broker about a health plan that will give you better information. If your employees are overspending on your company insurance card, chances are that they are not making these bad decisions on purpose. Make 2018 the year that you educate them on more options and help them to better navigate the healthcare system.
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