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Minimize Out-of-Pocket HDHP Costs with First Opinion

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Skipping the doctor’s office because of high deductibles? Get a diagnosis, treatment plan, and prescription for just $39 with First Opinion.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey, over 80 million American adults (over half of the labor force) skipped needed medical care because of the cost. An additional 25% of people avoided subsequent care—tests, treatments, follow-up care, and prescription drugs—because they couldn’t afford it.

More troubling, 28% of those with a chronic condition (like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma) who needed medication for it reported they either skipped doses or chose not to fill prescriptions because they couldn’t afford to pay for the medication.

To many, this is surprising. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which went into partial effect in 2014 and full effect this year (2016), was supposed to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. It’s in the name!

Lower Healthcare Costs for Whom?

Most Americans—more than 150 million people—get health insurance via their employers. Over the past several years, increasing premiums placed on employers by insurers, coupled with new ACA stipulations such as required coverage for companies with more than 50 full-time employees, have led companies to transfer the cost of healthcare coverage to their employees. These have come in the form of new employer-sponsored plans with higher deductibles, frequently referred to as high deductible health plans (HDHPs). About 44% of employers are expected to offer HDHPs as the only benefit option for employees in the next three years.

To learn more about how HDHPs work, check out our 101 Guide.

With fewer choices from their employers and potentially lower monthly premiums, employee enrollment in HDHPs has drastically increased. In 2015, 24% of all workers were enrolled in a HDHP compared to just 8% in 2009. Half of these employees have annual deductibles of over $1,000. For those looking to the ACA-spawned open exchanges, costs are even higher. A large majority of enrollees choose silver plans, where individuals cover a third of each year’s total costs, which is about $2,907 per person on average.

How to Be A Smarter Healthcare Consumer

Facing high out-of-pocket costs, healthcare consumers should get savvy on cost-effective options for services and prescriptions. People with a HDHP think they only have two options when they get sick:

1) Go to the doctor and pay the expensive out-of-pocket expense

2) Skip the doctor altogether and hope symptoms don’t get worse

First Opinion offers a better option. For only $39 (up to 75% less than an standard office visit with an HDHP), you can connect live (text, phone, video) with a First Opinion doctor in your area* who can give you a diagnosis, prescribe medication, order lab tests, or write a doctor’s note. Unlike in-person visits, First Opinion is with you the entire way and doctors will follow-up after the first consultation without you having to repeat the whole appointment, waiting, and payment cycle.

To fill prescriptions, First Opinion can help you shop around for the lowest price. Because insurer-negotiated rates for ad hoc treatments (like skin creams) are often higher, consumers can save up to 90% by paying directly. This is true even for drugs for chronic conditions like diabetes.

To help you evaluate whether to see a doctor for unexpected ailments, we lay out a few of the tradeoffs and considerations:

HDHP blog table

Click here for a larger version of the table.

Regardless of whether you’re facing a sudden illness or if you’d just like to stay healthy, First Opinion is here for you. Start a free dialogue with a doctor today!

*First Opinion local doctors are available in AZ, CA, DC, FL, GA, IL, MA, MD, MI, NY, NC, OH, PA, UT, VA, WA, WI

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