Paying cash for medical care could save you money

Some people are finding out they can actually save money by leaving their insurance card in their wallet.

SAN ANTONIO – It sounds like a crazy idea to pay cash for doctors or medical procedures even if you have health insurance. But with an increasing number of people in high-deductible health insurance plans, some medical service providers are offering discounts –– sometimes deep discounts –– to people who pay out of pocket.

As Consumer Reports reveals, some people are finding out they can actually save money by leaving their insurance card in their wallet.

It’s a practice more common for diagnostic procedures like X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds.

Companies like M-D Save work with hundreds of doctors, hospitals, and labs around the U.S. that offer discounts to people willing to prepay their bill.

And the financial team at CR found that many healthcare providers, including pharmacies and some outpatient facilities, offer 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, because it could cost you more in the long run. That’s because when you pay out of your own pocket, that money won’t be applied toward 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 checkup.

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

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.