I’m just wondering if you’ve ever actually done this. Because that’s really common advice, but it’s also really hard to do.For prescriptions, shop online or call local pharmacies and ask what your drug costs for someone without insurance. You will frequently pay *less* than someone with insurance. (Insurance companies have contracts with pharmacies and benefit managers to jack up the price.)
You can do the same thing with doctors, lab tests, imaging tests, and specialists. If your doctor prescribes a test or procedure, ask him for the Billing Code. Then call around to ask for the self-pay price. (If you tell them you have insurance, they will not know the price. Because it depends on your plan's specific contract with each in-network
I do it a lot in my job. I’ve also tried it for myself when we first went to our high deductible plan and it was touted as an “opportunity” to save money.
Here’s what i’ve run into:
—“X is the person you need to speak with—I’ll have him call you.” (He never does).
—“You would have to talk to our billing company XYZ” which is based in another state and pretty much wont talk to you without an account number.
—The honest answer: “we have no idea what it would cost because our billing department handles that and have different rates for every carrier, etc.”
—Another honest answer: “somewhere in the range of X and Y, depending on what they find/do. However, we can work with you on payments.”
It would be really nice if you could call and say “what do you charge for a colonoscopy” and they tell you a flat fee. But it’s not a restaurant menu.
I do recommend for prescriptions asking your doctor for samples. My mom takes Eliquis, which is very expensive, and when she hits the Medicare “donut hole” it cost about $275 a month. Her doctor know, and he’ll usually give her a month’s worth of samples when she comes in, which helps defray costs. Also, of course, ask your doc to prescribe generics where possible.