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Sick of your health insurance company? Try this.

I just read a personal friend's post on Facebook today venting her frustration with her health insurance denying referrals after giving her the runaround. I feel her pain, and this is one of the reasons that I opened a DPC practice. Here is my advice to anyone trying to get the best and most cost-effective health care in our current system:

1. Find a CATASTROPHIC, high-deductible health insurance plan or join a HEALTH SHARING ministry, like Liberty Direct. The premiums are a fraction of conventional health insurance, especially since the ACA increased the requirements on insurance companies. Plan to use this insurance/ health sharing only for major problems like hospitalization or surgery.

2. Take the money that you would have paid to your insurance and open a special bank account for health expenses, ideally a HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT (HSA).

3. Outside of catastrophes, directly negotiate your medical expenses with your doctor or facility and pay your bills as a "cash pay" or "self-pay" patient. Most every office offers a discount for patients without insurance if they pay at the time of service. Some discounts can be up to 60%. Consider a Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice to provide affordable primary care and help you find discounted specialists. At Gulf Coast DPC, our lab gets us rates that are 80-90% less expensive than customary rates, and we get discounts on all radiology tests for our patients. We also have a network of cash-friendly specialists and facilities. Use your HSA for these medical expenses.

It may take time and a little leg work to find your health care team this way, BUT it will put the patient back in control of his or her own health, rather than simply being subjected to the whims of a multi-billion dollar insurance company that is most interested in their shareholders' profits.


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