March 15, 2019
“Insurance companies say they’re lowering prices, but they’re not.”
Dan Weissmann is the host of a podcast on the cost of health care called An Arm and A Leg as well as a veteran reporter for outlets such as Marketplace and Planet Money. We discuss the complexities of picking a health insurance plan, the extreme vigilance we need to practice as health care consumers, and how to navigate getting good care and good coverage.
Picking an insurance plan is nearly impossible
Although it is no surprise that picking an insurance plan is complicated, it turns out it is nearly impossible. A study by George Loewenstein at Carnegie Mellon reveals that a majority of Americans will choose a suboptimal plan. With access to a full analysis of all the costs and regulations, 80% of us can make a sound decision.
Insurance companies drive up costs
Insurance companies are not motivated to keep costs down because they can pass them on to us, their customers. Large hospital groups and pharmaceutical companies are also active participants in driving up costs. Patients and independent doctors have no influence in negotiating overall costs down. This is why premiums, deductibles, and co-pays are increasing.
Always do good research before seeing a doctor to make sure you are in network and you understand how much you’ll need to pay out of your own pocket. Always double check the bills afterwards. Invariably, mistakes are made and it will take a lot of effort to rectify the error and not overpay. In cases of emergency this is extremely difficult. Remember that you can negotiate the rates with the hospital if you cannot pay the entire bill.
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Dan Weissmann is a radio producer and reporter in Chicago. He’s got a strong nerd streak and an artsy side. He has won awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, column writing, and for producing and hosting live radio.
Dan has worked as a staff reporter for Marketplace and Chicago’s WBEZ, and his work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, the BBC, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s show Reveal, and 99 Percent Invisible.