How to Talk to a Doctor When You Can’t Afford It

Posted by Joey Giangola

Jun 19, 2017 10:52:10 AM

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Let’s be honest, health insurance or no health insurance, it’s not cheap to go to the doctors office.

You’re often faced with a difficult decision when you get sick. Do you spend your last $120 on a visit to your doctor or do you buy groceries for the week?

Sometimes, maybe most times, the money just isn’t there.

When unexpected expenses hit they’re usually avoided, if possible.

It’s a lot easier to suffer through that sinus infection than handover your last $120 for a little relief.

Let’s take a closer look at why you’re having trouble affording the proper care and a few ways you can get it.

Why Do Doctors Charge So Much Money?

After you peel all the layers of nonsense away, what you’re left with is a service industry that has taken advantage of consumers who fell asleep at the wheel and a passenger (health insurance companies) that has held your pillow for too long.

One of the biggest issues with expensive treatment is that, if you have health insurance, you aren’t directly paying for it.

Because you, the consumer help set the price, the provider (your doctor) is left with a double wide gap to fill.

Most of the time, ignoring the treatment you need isn’t an option, or at least not a very good one. This leaves you without a choice to pay for their services. You’ve gotta pay a doctor, it’s just a matter of which one.

You can try and find a different doctor, but rarely if ever do you know or ask what their price is.

That’s because your health insurance company is so involved.

With every other service you buy you’re very aware of the price. If that price is unacceptable or the value isn’t justified you’ll go find someone else.

Because that price accountability is absent with health insurance, what we’ve been left with is an unattended third grade class for the last 30 years.

Unaffordable Options

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the traditional options you’ve struggled to afford over the years

Emergency Room

Topping the list of the most unaffordable options is the ER. If you’re not asking yourself “holy cow, what am I supposed to do?” There’s a good chance you don’t need to go to the ER.

There’s also a good chance you’ll have to wait a decent amount of time to be seen. Maybe not as long a the next option, but

This should be reserved for the most serious injuries and illnesses. Stuff like broken bones, severe cuts or wounds and life threatening symptoms like difficulty breathing.

Urgent Care

This is a step down on the unaffordability scale, however it will still set you back $100-$200

You’re going to venture out to an urgent care usually when an illness strikes after normal office hours for your primary care doctor. Wait times can be substantial depending on how many other people are having just as bad of day or night as you.

You also might be using the urgent care in place of having a primary doctor, which will cost you more in the long run.

Primary Doctor

In a perfect world this should be the most affordable and convenient type of treatment available to you.

Sadly, it’s neither.

While it’s another step down on the unaffordability scale, you’re still going to spend $100-$150 for this type of visit.

The biggest downside is that getting an appointment when you’re sick can be tricky.

What’s the Most Affordable Option?

There’s a new way to get access to a doctor that is both convenient and affordable.

Teladoc Visit

This type of visit will take the place of most urgent care situations without having to leave your house and for only a small monthly subscription fee of $12 (plus a one-time application fee of $3.95).

You’ll also spend a lot less time waiting around as Teladoc has an average wait time of 10 minutes for a visit. However, In my experience I’ve never had to wait longer than four or five minutes.

That $12 a month, or $144 a year, gives you access to a doctor whenever you need.

A push of a button can have you talking to a real licensed doctor in minutes that can even prescribe medication when medically necessary.

The Bottom Line

There’s definitely a lot of inefficiencies and excess in the traditional avenues of treatment. Not to mention time and convenience challenges as well.

Top that off with a price tag that doesn’t fit your current situation.

Talking to a doctor on your phone, tablet or computer is way more convenient and gives you way more bang for your health care buck.

Next Step

Take a look at what an online doctors visit looks like.

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Written by: Joey Giangola

Joey is the third generation to join the family business. He's the agency’s primary content creator and all around web guy. When Joey isn’t talking about insurance on the internet, or helping clients he’s probably spending time with his family. In other rare spare moments he could be found obsessing over one of the local Cleveland sports teams, struggling to stay awake late enough to play video games or trying to remember how to play the bass guitar.

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Topics: Telemedicine

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