We’ve done a few blogs about health care pricing (medications, office/ER visits, etc). Another big health care cost hurdle that patients deal with quite often is the cost of labs or blood work. If you’re a patient with typical insurance, have you ever received a bill from a lab for several hundred dollars for “routine blood work?” You probably assumed insurance would “cover” everything because you pay for an expensive health insurance plan. Or maybe you’re a patient without insurance or a high deductible plan that has to pay for many costs before insurance even kicks in. Have you ever wondered why labs cost so much? Or why the typical primary care practice you were going to didn’t warn you about the costs or ask your financial situation to be sure you could pay for such costs? Most likely, the pricing you received on your bill didn’t look like this:
Well these are just a few examples of the cash prices we’re able to get for patients in our practice. So for the vast majority of patients who need typical screening labs, the cost of these labs can be under $50 in many cases. You see, labs and the insurance company play fun games in which the lab “charges” the insurance company a ridiculous amount of money for these tests. The insurance then “discounts” these charges to make you think they are saving you money, even though the “discounted” price is much more than what you see above. Some insurance carriers even have “preferred” labs where they tell you can get “cheaper” labs by using them. There are clear examples of this right here in Rhode Island. Again, those cheaper labs are much more than what you see listed above.
You’ve probably realized by now that none of what the lab and insurers are doing has anything to do with what is best for the patient. However, at direct primary care practices like Direct Doctors, we take patient finances very seriously and do what is best for each individual patient. We have changed lab vendors 3 times in an attempt to get the best cash pricing for our patients, whether they have insurance or not. We do not order unnecessary testing and make sure to chat with patients about their financial situation to make sure they do not get any surprise bills. If that sounds like what primary care medicine should be, we agree! To check out how we practice primary care differently, please check us out at www.directdoctors.org.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.