Self-Pay For Basic Healthcare Is Not As Terrible As You Might Think


With the rising cost of medical care, have you ever thought of bypassing your insurance paying the doctor's office cash instead? I know, it's a radical idea, the notion that we pay doctors up front for services rendered (just like anything else in life). It sounds scary, unaffordable, and antiquated. But my experience was just the opposite.

Last week I came down with a sinus infection and (somehow) an ear infection, both of which still plague me as I write this morning. On Saturday, I went to a local health clinic and had the doctor examine me. After a few minutes, he gave me the diagnosis and then prescribed an antibiotic.

After all was said and done, I went up to the receptionist's desk and prepped to pay for the services rendered, braced myself for the exorbitant number about to be thrown my way.

"That will be $90, Mr. Connell," the receptionist said.

In my mind I though, that's not too bad. Right after she said that, the doctor came around front and offered to give me a special coupon for the antibiotic at a local grocery store. With the coupon, paying for it myself, it was a total of $19.

All in all, the whole course of examination and treatment came in under $110. It might seem really expensive at first, especially if you're used to insurance plans covering your every need, but consider how things may be different for some people, especially for those who are young and healthy like me.

With a health insurance plan, I would be paying hundreds of dollars a month. The average individual insurance plan premium as of last year was $321 a month (!!!). Minus some blood-work and a dental visit, I have not been to a doctor's office in nearly two years. Think of how much money I would have just been throwing away by being on such a plan.

For someone like me, a young, healthy adult with no major medical needs, having a traditional insurance plan just doesn't make any sense to me. If I'm only going to need any sort of medical care once a year or even less, why not just save up a few hundred dollars and have it in a special fund for when I need it?

To put it more simply, why not treat health insurance the way we treat car insurance? We don't go to our insurance company when we get an oil change or tire rotation, but for simple medical exams we'll be pulling out our insurance cards and writing co-pay checks all the time, in addition to our monthly insurance premiums.

There may be times when insurance really is needed, for something like a hospitalization or a surgery. And that's what it's there for. But for everyday, routine medical things, maybe always using insurance isn't the best option, especially for people in my age and health category.

Having some sort of catastrophic coverage is wise (just as you would have collision and comprehensive coverage on your car), but is it really necessary for the simple things? I'm starting to question that more now. There has to be a simpler, better way to pay for medical care. Perhaps self-pay is one option for those similarly situated.