Healthcare is going to change

Our family is one of a couple million who will swtich to a high-deductible health insurance plan and start a Health Savings Account.

I have seen talk about how this trend both is and is not going to change health care.

Let me tell you our experience and you can add it as another data point in your thinking.

For a family of four, we are paying about $177/mo. for a plan that has $5450 deductible.  One the plan we choose, office visits and prescriptions do not count toward the deductible.  That option would have cost another $50 a month and based on our family we didn’t think it made sense. 

A comprehensive plan would have cost us around $1000/mo. on the open market or with my current employer.  In addition these comprehensive policies are rising in price about a rate of about 20% per year.

For taking on the high deductible, I can set aside tax-free $5450 a year that I can use toward health expenses.  I can use this money for anything from prescriptions to glasses to dentistry.  When you put money into your HSA, it work just like a 401K – it is your forever and you can invest to your level of risk.

All the warm-up here is to share the story of my first experience with our new health care coverage.  I have a history of developing sinus infections every 18-24 months.  I am partial to getting them because of some surgery I had when I was a teenager.  This week another one hit and I had to start the process of getting some antibiotics to treat them.

My doctor is aware of the history and was comfortable diagnosing the situation over the phone.  She called in a prescription to our local pharmacy and we were able to avoid an office visit (first money saved).

I got to the pharmacy and they had already had it filled.  I was prescribed a brand name antibiotic called Levaquin.  10 pills cost $110.36.  As I mentioned, there is no drug component to our new plan, but we are given a discount card.  They claim we get a 20% discount off  brand name drugs and even more off generics.

Both the pharmacist and I were a little taken a back.  I explained our new situation.  She wondered if amoxicillin would work, and I said that I had taken that before, and she offered to call the doctor.  The called back and agreed that would be OK and 20 pills of amoxicillin came to $18.71.

Had we been under the old policies at GE, I would not have thought twice about walking out with the Levaquin.  It would have probably been a $20 or $25 copay and I would not have even known the full price of the drug.

People are going to start questioning what they are paying for.  They are going to think twice about going in for every sniffle they have.  I was on a plane with an insurance executive about three months ago and he said that fees for office visits only went up 7%to 8% in 2005.  He said it was the first time in years that it was not a double digit increase.  He attributes that to people have to pay more of their healthcare and putting pressure on the industry.  He thought you would start to see this in other areas of health care as well.

I wholeheartedly agree.

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