Pay less for medical procedures with MDSave

If you’re having some health issues, thinking about receiving health procedures, but feeling concerned about medical bills, try MDSave. It is a website that have connections with many hospitals in the country and offer medical procedures at a significant discount in the form of vouchers. Here is my own experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I had some weird feelings in my abdomen that led me to a doctor visit and a blood test. The blood test turned out good and the doctor said I didn’t have anything to worry about. However, abs still nagged me. Paranoid as I am, I asked the doctor to order a CT scan so that I would be surer about my body and health. After the doctor office confirmed that the scan was ordered, it was up to me to call the hospital to set up an appointment. Knowing how expensive medical care can be in this country, I made a point of asking about the potential cost in advance.

After agreeing on the appointment date and time, the operator connected me with the Finance department or something like that. The person told me that the scan would cost $5,800. I was floored. Even with insurance, I would have to pay around 60% of that before the insurance kicks in due to my high deductible. And she wasn’t joking. Here is what UMC Health listed as the price for my procedure.

I was about to give up on this test because there is no way that I would shell out that much for a test that my doctor didn’t even think I need. But the person on the other end of the phone quickly told me to look up MDSave and see if there is any voucher for this procedure. As it happened, there was and still is. For the same procedure at the same hospital, the voucher costs $484.

Cost of CT Scan of Abdomen and Pelvis with Contrast on MDSave
Source: MDSave

With the voucher, I essentially would receive the same care for less than 10% of what they would charge me. How insane that is! Please note that whether what you pay MDSave can be counted towards your deductible depends on your insurer. Mine doesn’t allow that. But it may be possible to get reimbursed by your HSA provider.

Luckily my scan turned out well and showed that I do not have any major underlying condition with my abs and internal organs nearby, for now. But this experience is really enlightening for me. How on Earth could something like that happen? I talked to a few people in my office, including my well-educated American boss and he hadn’t even heard of MDSave. How many people had to pay much much more than what they would have to? And then, I thought of this

40% of Americans don't have $400 for emergency expenses
Source: ABCNews

How many people have to roll a dice with their health every day because they can’t afford it? I took the scan because I didn’t want to go by my days, fearing for my health and knowing that I could have done something, but didn’t. That would be a horrible feeling to carry. With that kind of feelings, you can’t be happy. But many people likely don’t have the luxury to assuage themselves, simply because the system is so broken.

Healthcare in France vs in the US

I came across a really good clip on the comparison of healthcare in France and its counterpart in the US. I urge you to have a listen.

Granted, it’s impossible to have a 100% apple-to-apple comparison between any two countries. However, I think France is a good reference since 1) it is a developed country like the US and 2) it receives a lot of immigrants from other countries, especially from Africa due to geographical proximity. I once listened to a doctor opine that immigrants are the primary cause of the healthcare system. I think it’s false, but having France as a yardstick will, to some extent, take out that element.

According to the clip, France spends around $4,900 per capita every year while the figure in the US is $10,200. Despite spending more, the US delivers worse results whether it’s in infant mortality rate, life expectancy and rate of rehospitalization.

Furthermore, the clip mentioned the higher taxes French citizens have to pay in order for the government to cover the social security. The government is like a business. To cover expenses, it needs to have capital. It can’t print money to cover the costs nor run at deficit forever. To finance the social security, the money has to come from taxes. Even though the French pay more taxes, they don’t have to bankrupt themselves whenever care is needed. On the other, I think that Americans focus too much on lowering taxes and when the federal budget runs red, the government starts to look at where to cut. If it’s not military, then social security is the next big ticket item.

Between paying more in taxes like the French do and paying less in taxes while bankrupting myself like we do in the US, I know my choices. I don’t think having a carbon copy of the French healthcare in the US is without difficulty. Healthcare is an incredibly complex issue and any solution is almost guaranteed to carry baggage and influence other issues such as taxes, minimum wage, etc…However, I also believe that there are plenty of things we can learn from the French.