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Consumer Reports: Why paying cash for medical care can save you money

Posted at 4:00 AM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 11:26:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Most people wouldn’t dream of seeing a doctor without using their health insurance. But with the increasing number of people in high-deductible health insurance plans, some medical service providers are offering discounts to people who pay out of pocket.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true in some cases," says Consumer Reports Money Editor, Donna Rosato.

A company like M-D Save, even pulls together hundreds of doctors, hospitals and labs around the U-S offering discounts to people willing to prepay their bill. It’s a practice more common for diagnostic procedures, like X-rays and C-T scans and even ultrasounds. But the financial team at Consumer Reports found many medical services, including pharmacies and even some outpatient surgeries are offering discounts if you leave your insurer out of the picture.

“It’s especially beneficial for people who have high deductible health insurance plans, but you have to be careful, it could cost you more in the long run," says Rosato. "That’s because when you pay out of your own pocket, that money will not be applied to your deductible or your out of pocket maximum. If you need a lot of healthcare later on, you could be starting from zero.”

So run the numbers carefully and decide which way checks out, before your next check up.

Consumer Reports also cautions that whichever way the numbers fall, don’t skip having health insurance. Health insurance protects you from financial shocks that could bankrupt you, if you or a family member has a medical crisis that requires major hospitalization or expensive treatments.