via Wall Street Journal
As consumers get savvier about shopping for health care, some are finding a curious trend: More hospitals, imaging centers, outpatient surgery centers and pharmacy chains will give them deep discounts if they pay cash instead of using insurance.
When Nancy Surdoval, a retired lawyer, needed a knee X-ray last year, Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado said it would cost her $600, out of pocket, using her high-deductible insurance, or just $70 if she paid cash upfront.
When she needed an MRI to investigate further, she was offered a similar choice—she could pay $1,100, out of pocket, using her insurance, or $600 if she self-paid in cash.
Rather than feel good about the savings, Ms. Surdoval got angry at her carrier, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “I’m paying $530 a month in premiums and I get charged more than someone who just walks in off the street?” says Ms. Surdoval, who divides her time between Boulder and Tucson. “I thought insurance companies negotiated good deals for us. Now things are totally upside down.”