Category: Uncategorized

Care Facilities: Cheap or Expensive

We all know there’s a ton of waste in the healthcare system. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but one I would like to touch on is choosing the right kind of place to go to get care. Choosing the right facility might mean your own home if you have something like a cough or sinus infection. It might mean something entirely different depending on your illness. Choosing wisely will save you time and money, yet most people don’t really think about it because they are used to doing the same thing time after time, year after year. I compiled a list of what the options are and when they might be helpful.

$ TELEHEALTH – Telehealth means getting care from your laptop, computer or phone. You can see or speak with real doctors from your state. It’s is the least costly option for medical visits and it’s available 24/7. They can treat minor issues like colds, coughs, sinus infections, bladder infections, rashes, and much more. If you feel you need a psychiatrist or psychologist, you can do it via the internet. Typically, you get your treatment plan immediately and a when needed, a prescription can be ready at your pharmacy within minutes. Think if you have a sick kid and it’s 3:00 a.m. (because that’s when kids get sick, of course) and you can see a doctor on your phone. How handy is that? Sometimes an employer will pay for these visits, so everyone should check with their plan to find out if they have a preferred vendor. 

$$ CONVENIENCE CLINIC – Go to minute clinics like CVS or Walgreens. They are open during regular business hours and offer extended hours like nights and weekends. No appointments are needed. They can treat minor health issues like colds, flu, ear and eye infections, and sore throats. The wait is usually relatively short, and you can usually shop while you wait. That’s just fantastic.

$$$ PRIMARY CARE CLINICS – Office visits to see your doctor are open during regular business hours. You need an appointment, and they are great for non-emergency issues like preventive care, routine care for general issues, screenings and vaccines and referrals to specialty care. If you feel you need to be seen, primary clinics are much more efficient than urgent care. Wait times vary, but most likely you’ll see a doctor within a fairly short time.

$$$$ URGENT CARE CLINICS – Open days, nights and weekends. Visit urgent care when your concern is urgent but not life-threatening. They are best for minor cuts, sprains, and burns, rashes, fevers, X-rays and lab testing. It’s a great option when your primary clinic is closed. Wait times vary but are typically longer than an office visit.

$$$$$ EMERGENCY ROOM (ER) – Open 24/7. Go to an emergency room or call 911 if you have a life-threatening situation. Things like chest pain, shortness of breath, uncontrolled bleeding, poisoning or other serious illnesses and injuries require an ER. Wait times are dependent on the severity of your situation and tend to be longer if you go with a minor condition.

Everybody wants to save time and money on their healthcare. If folks can get comfortable moving out of the regular routine to try something different, going to the correct spot can really be financially beneficial. It can also save you a whole lot of time, and who isn’t excited about that?


2 of our clients saved a ton of money last week – Here’s how
We’re all about changing behaviors. One of the simplest behaviors that you can change is to  do a bit of research. One of our clients needed an MRI. He called his insurance carrier to make sure the MRI was covered and to ask how much it would cost. The answer: $1100.  Then he checked with Trig. Trig showed him a few options for stand-alone MRI clinics (he found one in near him), the company guaranteed that no MRI will cost more than $600, so his savings last week was at least $500.

Another client was paying $400 every month ($4,800 per year) for one of his prescription medications. Because this prescription was so expensive, he checked with Trig for solutions. Trig introduced him to GoodRx which is also located on our Top Websites page. Through GoodRx, he was offered a manufacturer discount coupon which paid the first $2400 for his medication each year.  His savings last week – $2400.

By asking questions, doing some research and thinking ahead, these people were able to save themselves serious amounts of money. We know that it’s not always easy to make huge changes, but even little changes can have a big impact. Knowing how to solve medical issues isn’t always easy. That’s why we work to guide you through the mess and help you find the right answers and the right care.

Is it REALLY free healthcare after I reach my deductible?

Before we begin, let’s review 4 points:

  1. Insurance carriers aren’t in business to lose money. United Healthcare reported $163.3 billion of revenue in 2017.
  2. There is no such thing as free healthcare. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get BOGOs at your clinic?.
  3. This year’s insurance premiums are mostly based on last year’s claims
  4. More than half of Americans (57%) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey. Don’t have to feel alone!

Those four statements were running through my head as I read an article on making the most of a high deductible health plan. The article at first glance made some sense. The main premise was that if you are facing a surgery or similar healthcare situation that will bring about significant medical bills after you’ve hit your deductible, then why not pile on the medical services during that same year. After all, once you’ve reached your deductible, the rest of the year you get free healthcare, right? Well, not so fast.

It’s important to understand that a HDHP is a health plan with an annual deductible of at least $1,350 for self-only coverage or $2,700 for family coverage. According to point #4, that means 57% of us can’t afford our HDHP since we have less than $1,000 in savings. Then, remember point #3 – insurance companies don’t lose money in the long run. Therefore, if medical claims exceed premiums this year, the insurance companies will increase premiums next year, meaning either your monthly premium will increase, your deductible will increase or both.

Now let’s “follow the dollar” through this scenario. According to the Business Insider, the average cost of having a baby in the US is $10,808. Let’s say you have a $3,000 deductible, so you will obviously blow past it with the birth of your precious one. Once you hit $3000, your insurance carrier will then pick up the remainder of the balance and any of your healthcare that follows in that plan year is “free”. Therefore, you either decide to have some unnecessary medical procedures or you have needed procedures and don’t feel the need to price shop since you don’t have to pay anyway. Sound reasonable? Yes, according to the article I read. However, what happens next year to the cost of your healthcare? According to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey, insurance premiums have continued to rise ever since they began measuring them in 1999, so most likely, that’s your answer.

According to Benefitfocus, a benefits technology and services firm, 70% of large employers offered at least one HDHP either in addition to a traditional plan or exclusively as a full replacement for traditional coverage. Here’s the conundrum: most of us can’t afford our high deductible plans now and are hearing messages that if the unfortunate happens and we do exceed our deductible in a plan year, the remainder of the year is “free”. This sets us up for a downward spiral for the next year and so on and on and on.

What is the answer – earn more and save more? That sounds great but unfortunately is not always possible. What is possible is to learn how to be a savvy medical consumer by increasing your healthcare literacy. Learn how to compare costs when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. Learn how to find quality care in your network. If you are among the 57% that has limited savings, ask the doctor or hospital for a low- or no-interest installment plan and always ask whether a less expensive, alternative treatment is available. Remember, healthcare is a consumer good and we need to treat it as such. The good news is that it isn’t hard, The Definitive Guide on Increasing Employee Healthcare Literacy will show you how.

Healthcare Literacy – What Most People Don’t Understand

Health Literacy is defined as “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions”. However, over 88% of Americans are not actually “health literate”. That means that nearly 9 out of 10 adults lack the skills needed to manage their healthcare. Further, the average patient reads at about a 5th grade level when it comes to healthcare. And unfortunately, the medical field and health insurance is only growing more complex.

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How to Explain Health Literacy to Employees and Co-Workers

Every year during open enrollment meetings, you have the “pleasure” of standing up in front of your employees and delivering the news that their health insurance premiums are rising again, so in effect, they are getting a salary decrease. They are going to hurl questions at you, (if you’re lucky) or throw things at you, (if you aren’t) and both you and they feel helpless to do much about it. What if we could write a different narrative – one where your employees understood why their healthcare premiums keep rising and actions they could take to help control that upward spiral? The reward to you is lower healthcare costs and appreciative employees, the reward to them is simply, better health.

Here are 5 ways to improve your employees’ healthcare literacy that will help them to control costs.

  1. Use the appropriate level of care. Since your employees are the only ones who can decide when to enter the healthcare system, it is important for them to understand what type of care is available, so that they can make the best decision for their situation. When making this decision, they should consider both cost as well as the level of care required to adequately treat their condition. It is the only way to ensure that they are getting the right kind of care so that they receive the best care for the best price.
  2. Use an in-network provider and facility whenever possible (which is most of the time). In network refers to providers or health care facilities that are part of a health plan’s network of providers with which it has negotiated a discount. Your employees should be encouraged to create an online account with their insurance carrier. Once they are logged in, they can use their carrier’s provider search tool to find an in-network provider.
  3. Use price comparison tools for both medical and pharmaceuticals. Costs for office visits, procedures and tests can vary greatly from one doctor to the next as can prescriptions vary from one pharmacy to the next. Your employees should learn how to shop for affordable care and they can save hundreds or thousands of dollars while making informed decisions about their healthcare.
  4. Get a second opinion when a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is suggested. Your employees should learn how and when to get a second opinion to avoid unnecessary care. A second opinion can help your employees:
  • Ensure their diagnosis is correct
  • Select a treatment plan that is best for them
  • Learn about clinical trials
  • Understand their condition better
  • Get answers to their questions
  • Become an informed, active partner in their healthcare
  • Find peace of mind
  1. Use a bill review and negotiation service. There can be a large disparity in the cost of services, so your employees should learn how to review their bills for accuracy and how to negotiate a lower rate. One way to negotiate rates is to ask for the cash price.

Getting your employees to take these actions requires a shift in behavior. The most important factor to achieve behavior change success is that leadership must be completely onboard. Help your C-suite realize the impact on the organization of their employees learning how to get the best care possible for the best price. How much does it cost the organization if the top sales performer is out for an unnecessary surgery? You may also need to help your employees realize how becoming a savvy healthcare consumer impacts not only their family’s pocketbook, but more importantly, their health. When your employee finds out that their child’s surgery didn’t happen because they got a second opinion, that “avoided surgery story” will permeate throughout the company and sway others to do the same.

If you wish to learn more about health literacy options that will not only save your organization money but save you time, check out our healthcare literacy guide. This 10-minute read will give you many tips to avoid overpayment for medical services and improper care. Bringing these solutions to your management team will make you a Human Resource’s Superstar in their eyes.

Overcoming Language Barriers in Workplace Healthcare (and improve employee engagement)

One of the most common issues that we encounter in workplace benefits is the language barrier. When it comes to healthcare, the simple truth is that benefits must be communicated successfully. Between your health plan itself, to new cost-savings benefits that you’ve added (tele-health anyone?), you must be prepared to educate your employees about them or face abysmal utilization.

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Getting a Fair Price Shouldn’t Be a Struggle

I’m a 50 year old woman (or at least somewhere near 50) who needs to get a routine bone density scan.  My doctor suggested it as part of my preventive care routine, and I heard it was painless and easy so I consented.  No big deal to schedule, my doctor told me, her office would make the appointment.

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How My Healthcare Knowledge Helped My Family

I work for a company called Trig. Our goal is to increase benefits and healthcare literacy. It’s that simple. Fortunately, I am one of those people who seldom go to the doctor (knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, etc.). Therefore, this knowledge has personally, rarely been needed (thank goodness!), however, I can pass this information on to those I care about and our hope is that Trig users do the same.

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Saving Money Was Easy For This Family With The Flu.

I get it, asking you to change your routine for how you go to the doctor or get a prescription can be annoying. Whether you’re sick, not feeling well or the trip to the pharmacy is just one more errand on your growing to-do list, sometimes it can be worth the extra price just to keep doing things the same way you always have. My family usually gets our prescriptions from Costco or Wal-Mart because typically they are less expensive. There have been times though, that the convenience of the drive though at Walgreens or CVS has swayed us. When we are in a hurry and don’t want to lug kids in and out of the car, wait in line, etc., we may forgo the savings. For the most part however, we have been mindful of saving money when we could on our medications. Or so I thought.

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Aetna’s Faux Pas and the “Millennial” Response

Admittedly I’ve never been a C-level executive at an insurance provider, nor have I been employed as a claim adjuster for an insurance company. But it seems to me that even those of us who have never had to approve or deny health insurance claims know that someone charged with that great a task should be highly qualified. A recent CNN article sees insurance provider Aetna under intense scrutiny for admitting that their own medical directors don’t look at medical records when approving or denying a claim.

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