Health Insurance is Just That

It’s benefits election time again, which provides an opportunity to take a first hand look at the real costs of health care and insurance. Aetna provides a great web-based tool called Navigator that shows you what charges doctors submitted, what Aetna paid, and what you paid. In a sign of the times, you can now even download the raw data to do your own cost crunching. Some interesting findings:

  1. Having insurance gets you a significantly discounted rate from the “list” price
  2. My primary care physician only gets my copay for an office visit
  3. I pay more of the small bills, insurance pays more of the big ones

The last point is the most poignant reflection on health care today and into the future: it really only kicks in when you have major events. With higher deductibles, it also means customers are going to demand more up-front pricing information. I think greater personal responsibility and choice in health care are a good thing, though the system needs to be more transparent to really make it work.

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