I recently saw an increase in my health insurance premium, and I will see it again quite soon, thanks to age-based premium increases. As a result, I am seriously thinking of a Health Savings Account and a high deductible plan. The ridiculousness of rising medical costs is really starting to be annoying — and increasingly moving toward unaffordable. Many people already experience the fact that health care in this country is unaffordable for them. So it was interesting to learn a little bit about a company that works to negotiate medical costs.
I recently spoke with Derek Fitteron, the CEO of Medical Cost Advocate, and he gave me some insight into what his company does to help consumers reduce their health care costs.
“Expectations were that health insurance premiums would go up six to eight percent,” Fitteron told me. “Instead, they are going up 10 to 12 percent. That means that employers are passing more costs on to employees, and consumers find that they have to pay more out of pocket. What we do is work to negotiate out of pocket expenses so that consumers pay less.”
The way it works, he explained, is that consumers can submit their out of pocket expenses, spent to meet a deductible or due to out of network treatment, and Medical Cost Advocate will attempt to negotiate a lower payment. Fitteron said that the company only charges if the fee is successfully renegotiated. “We take a percentage of what we accomplish. If the bill isn’t reduced, we get nothing.”
“We also help the uninsured,” Fitteron continued. “About 15 percent of the people we serve are not insured, and we can help them get a better rate, since they don’t have the advantage of a group rate through insurance.”
Fitteron also told me about a program that can help manage a family’s health care costs. “For 200 dollars a month, it is possible for us to track bills, review insurance and negotiate your costs. And this is for the whole family.”
Services offered by Medical Cost Advocate can be paid for using money from Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts. I haven’t used these services, but they seem intriguing. If I decided to go with a Health Savings Account, and have to pay out of pocket for more of my health care, it might be worth it to see if cost negotiation can save me a little more. I’m not sure that I would need the monthly service, but it might be worth it to check into the negotiation service offered.