Sunday, January 19, 2014

Helping My Friends Be Healthcare Savvy

Practically a Book Club, December 2013
During our last book club meeting, the conversation shifted to health care. One of my friends was told she needed to pay $1,700 for a MRI of her knee, another had a bill from an anesthesiologist for $2,000 from an appendectomy that was done in-network, and the list went on. I couldn't sleep that night because I was fretting over my friends being taken advantage of by a system they didn't fully understand. Some are covered through huge employers like the federal government, others have coverage through small non-profits, but no one had an HR team like we have at ASHA to turn to for help. One of my friends is from Canada, so our way of doing things in the U.S. is completely unfamiliar. The next morning, I emailed everyone and offered to host a little get together for us to talk about health insurance. I put this deck of slides together and created the sheet below for our discussion. 

I truly don't understand why employers spend so much money on health insurance for their employees and their families and then put so little effort into educating them on how to get the most out of it. People can't value what they don't understand. And, you can't expect people to make cost conscious decisions if you don't give them tools to compare their options. My friends were shocked when they saw the difference in cost of a care between settings:
  • Convenience Care Clinic $50
  • Provider's Office $70
  • Urgent Care Center $130
  • Emergency Room $850

We actually paused our discussion to locate our nearest CVS Minute Clinic. I promised to pass along this information about obtaining additional health insurance for traveling out of the country and a link to the Wage Works site where they have a nice tool to compare health insurance choices. 

It will certainly take more than one conversation for people to be confident navigating the system, but this was a start. I know I'll approach the next conversations I have at work about health insurance with a renewed commitment.