Posted by admin | Posted in Self Pay Resources | Posted on 17-03-2016
I have been a fan of goodrx.com for a long time, but I was recently introduced to two more online options we can use. After playing with all three sites for a while I learned that they could easily be used together to find the best deals, because for some reason not all produce exactly the same pricing results.
One thing I’ve been unable to do with goodrx was easily see what my small town local pharmacy would charge me. Goodrx always gave me a range, but it was still a surprise if I ever purchased from that small pharmacy (it’s part of the usave group in a very small town nearby). Sometimes it was much easier and more convenient to use that small pharmacy and just pay a little extra.
With these two new options I found, I am now able to see what my local pharmacy would charge using their free cards. I haven’t needed to actually use these other services yet, our family just doesn’t take that many medications, but it’s so nice to know a real number and not have to guess about what I’ll pay. Sometimes those extra dollars matter. Thanks to the internet looking for prices on prescriptions is quick and painless (usually), and using 3 sites instead of one just takes a few more seconds. In some cases those few seconds could save enough for a meal out on the town, or extra grocery money. I think it’s worth it.
The two new sites are OneRx.com and LowestMed.com. Lowest Med is the most similar to goodrx because you don’t have to join the site to get the results. OneRx makes you sign up (still free) to get the codes you need to show your pharmacist. But both of them showed me what my tiny pharmacy will charge. I will update this once I’ve had a chance to use them in practice and see how accurate they are. I don’t anticipate any major problems, though. It looks like onerx.com will also show you coupons if you sign up which can be stacked along with any insurance coverage you have. As a Samaritan member that doesn’t apply to me, but for anyone reading this who still has insurance for a while that may be beneficial to you.
There’s a growing trend in the US when it comes to paying cash for health care vs using insurance. Many patients are now finding they can get much better deals at their hospitals and imaging centers by paying cash instead of running the charges through their insurance. According to an article by the Wall Street Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-cut-your-health-care-bill-pay-cash-1455592277) you can often save hundreds if not thousands just by pay the offered cash rate and bypassing the insurance company completely. This presents an opportunity, an education and sometimes a difficult choice if you have insurance. The patient has the option to pay less out of pocket, but the cash rate can’t be applied toward the deductible which is sometimes important. However, that knowledge now educates the patient that insurance isn’t always the amazing deal they were led to believe. Insurance is supposed to contract a better/lower rate vs paying cash. So why now is everything upside down?
The headaches and delays associated with running charges through insurance are expensive for health care providers. Many of them are waking up to the fact that they can get their own accounts receivables up and frustrations down if they make the billing easier on their customers. With huge deductibles through insurance the hospital will not only wait for all the paperwork to run through the insurance system, but they may never get paid anyway because the rate is so high and the patient’s massive deductible leaves them to pay everything on their own…and it’s just too much. Why take the risk? If they offer an incentive for quick cash pay up front, those headaches go away and the hospital has money in hand. Insurance customers aren’t required to use their policy every time, but that information isn’t always offered up front.
The articles referenced above indicates that the ACA includes a piece in the law saying tax exempt hospitals cannot charge the financially challenged patient much more than what medicare would pay. It’s aimed at preventing price gouging of cash patients. (note to self: find out if the hospital is tax exempt). I read that to mean private hospitals aren’t subject to that ruling and can charge whatever they want. So do your homework in non-emergency situations and pick somewhere affordable.
All of this means good news for healthcare sharing ministry members. While insurance customers have to make a difficult choice between paying less in cash or paying more and having something go toward their deductible, Samaritan Ministries members get the best of both worlds. They pay the cheaper cash rate, and get that cash amount reimbursed by Samaritan members. And the cash pay discount they got reduces their own personal responsibility with Samaritan so it’s possible for a Samaritan member to actually pay nothing out of pocket when it’s all said and done. The member covers the initial cash bill, but the reimbursement would pay back all of it as long as the discount was big enough (a $300 discount wipes out the members $300 responsibility, $200 wipes out $200, and so forth).
I enjoy reading articles like this and hearing that maybe, just maybe, health care is getting back on track. Yes, care is expensive. But the insurance boondoggle has made a mess of it for everyone. Greed and corruption play a part, but there are bright shining moments in this mess and cash patients can come out far better on the other side. Being part of a sharing ministry is icing on the cake, whether the charge is a $500 ER bill or a million dollar crisis, the ministry is there to help and the cash status allows for reasonable rates. Win-win!
Posted by admin | Posted in Samaritan Newsletters | Posted on 04-03-2016
Samaritan recently published the history of how this ministry came to be and what it went through in order to grow and become the wonderful organization it is today. Some of this history I knew from doing my research a couple of years ago, but much of it was new information to me and great to read. I’m so glad the founder pushed forward to get the ministry going even when there were a couple of bumps in the road. For instance, the founder worked for 6 years without taking any pay. That is an example of someone truly dedicated and passionate about his goals.
You can read the full history here: http://samaritanministries.org/why-samaritan/long-history/
Samaritan recently had their largest January growth in history, over 5000 new families joined that month. The ministry is growing by leaps and bounds!