Is American Healthcare a Poor Deal?

Rising costs are threatening access to healthcare for American citizens.

According to a National Conference of State Legislatures report:

In 2018, the average annual premium for employer-based family coverage rose 5 percent to $19,616; for single coverage, premiums rose 3 percent to $6,896.

Covered workers contributed 18 percent of the cost for single coverage and 29 percent of the cost for family coverage, on average, with considerable variation across firms.”

That’s big money being paid to protect against medical emergencies. I know people who held off starting a business because they relied on employer-sponsored health plans.  

So this begs the question: Who’s responsible for making healthcare affordable?

Must a person increase their income to provide for healthcare?

Should the government impose regulations?

Would more taxpayer dollars do the trick?

For a layman like myself, I have no idea how to fix the system. What I do know is my power as a customer. If a product or service doesn’t meet my needs, then I choose to not buy it. Rather, I use a sound tactic which has been leveraged over and over by industries to receive excellent healthcare at a fraction of the cost. I’ll talk more about that in a bit…

These days the healthcare industry is feeling the pressure to lower costs more than ever. In order to remain competitive, hospitals are focusing on their specialties and efficiency. The trend is to outsource the remaining functions to vendors who perform those services cheaper.

At first glance, this appears to be an ordinary business move, so what’s the point? The problem is, the focus is on securing profit margins for investors while healthcare costs increase.

For example, a hospital in Altoona, PA slashes costs by not paying an American based doctor to review emergency brain scans during the midnight shift. Instead, a request is sent to a staff of doctors in Bangalore, India who interpret the results in a timely manner.

I wonder if American patients would feel comfortable knowing someone located thousands of miles away is influencing their treatment. Are these cost savings passed on to the patient? I’ll let you arrive at your own conclusion…

I want my dear friends to know that we, as consumers, can use the same outsourcing tactics to pay a fraction of the costs for insurance and treatments.

Hospitals are outsourcing brain scan analysis to Indian nationals, so I’d assume those same doctors are qualified to provide treatment too. Many foreign doctors are being certified in the U.S. and U.K. so I won’t hesitate to buy a $150 ticket to Mexico City to meet an English speaking doctor.   

One of my favorite things to do is slow travel which puts me on the road for months at a time. I use medical services in every country I visit and pay cash for preventative care.

Every time, I’ve received quality treatment from professional staff. I’ll admit it – the first few times, I had unreasonable fears like imagining my foot getting amputated when my original symptoms were a sore throat. Of course, nothing like that happened, or else I wouldn’t be writing this article.

Here’s a short list of health-related experiences I’ve had during travel:

Affordable Insurance Plans

In 2018, I traveled in Colombia for 6 months and bought a private health insurance plan from one of the country’s best insurers. They offered two plans to foreigners:

Option 1: Provided 100% coverage and $0 deductible for treatment at $90 per month. The plan included health, dental, and eyes along with a $10 USD copay. Treatments occurring outside of the country had to qualify as emergency treatment.

Option 2: At a cost of $120, extended the same full coverage available in Colombia to 9 other Latin American countries as travel insurance lasting three months. The three month counter automatically resets upon return to Colombian soil.

My favorite part of the plan was the vast amount of in-network health providers available. I contacted specialists without needing the insurer’s authorization or a doctor’s referral.

I used every service possible and didn’t experience any issues. My insurance agent gave me his WhatsApp number and assisted me when needed.

Whenever I deactivate my Colombian insurance, World Nomads or IMG become my preferred travel health insurance providers for emergency coverage. At this moment, a zero deductible World Nomads policy costs around $120 and IMG comes in at $43 per month.

Paying Cash for Treatment In Foreign Countries

Most of the time I pay cash for everything except for emergency treatments during travel, and the bill is usually less than I expect. I’ve never bothered asking about prices before receiving treatment, but it’s probably something I should do to avoid a costly surprise.  

The table below highlights the costs of services I feel comfortable mentioning:

Everyone’s health situation is different. Paying cash for affordable treatment works because I can get what I need, when I need it, without an insurance plan dictating my options.

Out-of-Pocket costs for Treatments in Private Foreign Clinics

A Healthy Vacation

This is by far my favorite incentive! I like to order up a panel of health checkups then go lounge at the beach. For my friends with jobs, now there’s no reason to let those paid vacation hours go unused. Vacations can be good for your health!

As you can see, I’m a huge fan of using the same outsourcing tactics that the healthcare industry uses to reduce costs and maintain quality. When American companies realize our money is filling someone else’s pockets, that’ll drive change in the healthcare industry.  

I’m interested in hearing how you handle increasing healthcare costs in America. Comment below…

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