Consumer Reports: Save money by paying your doctor in cash

It sounds like a strange idea to pay cash for doctors or medical procedures, even if you have health insurance. But it actually makes a lot of sense.

As Consumer Reports reveals, some people can actually save money by leaving their insurance card in their wallet.

Most people wouldn't dream of seeing a doctor without using their health insurance.

But with the increasing number of people in high-deductible health insurance plans, some medical service providers are offering discounts, sometimes deep discounts, to people who pay out of pocket.

"It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true in some cases," says Consumer Reports Money Editor, Donna Rosato.

A company like MD Save even pulls together hundreds of doctors, hospitals and labs around the US, offering discounts to people willing to prepay their bill.
It's a practice more common for diagnostic procedures, like X-rays and C-T scans and even ultrasounds.

But the financial team at Consumer Reports found many medical services, including pharmacies and even some outpatient surgeries, are offering discounts if you leave your insurer out of the picture.

"It's especially beneficial for people who have high deductible health insurance plans - but you have to be careful, it could cost you more in the long run. That's because when you pay out of your own pocket, that money will not be applied to your deductible or your out of pocket maximum. If you need a lot of healthcare later on, you could be starting from zero," says Rosato.

Run the numbers carefully and decide which way checks out, before your next check up.

Consumer Reports cautions that whichever way the numbers fall, don't skip having health insurance.

Health insurance protects you from financial shocks that could bankrupt you, if you or a family member has a medical crisis that requires major hospitalization or expensive treatments.
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