Thursday, February 15, 2007

Consumer Driven Health Care in action...

For the last several years, my family has been covered by a small business plan from Blue Cross of California. We’ve had one of their better PPO plans, with a $250 deductible and a $20 doctor’s office copay. Each year, as our renewal came around, the price has jumped up…most recently from a monthly rate of $1183 to $1358.

$16K per year for health insurance is simply too much. We just switched to Blue Cross’ $2400 deductible HSA plan. The premiums dropped by $785 per month…$9420 per year…for a plan with a family out-of-pocket maximum of $5500. This year I’m saving more in premiums than the worst-case annual claims. On top of that, there’s the tax savings on expenses that are run through the HSA account. Altogether it’s not a bad deal.

But, now when I go to the pharmacy, instead of paying $15 or $25 per prescription, I’m paying full freight, at least until I meet my deductible. So I decided to call around and see what a few local pharmacies would charge for a month’s supply of my latest cholesterol med, Simvastatin (the generic form of Zocor). The results were illuminating: Walgreen’s: $146 Longs: $88 Target $55 Costco: $13.56. That’s almost an 11:1 range in prices.

When I was paying a flat price per prescription, convenience was the determinant factor in filling a prescription. Walgreen’s is around the corner. Costco is 6 miles away. Sorry, Walgreen’s. From now on, I’m driving to Costco.

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