Last month a couple of my dependents went to the local hospital for routine blood tests. The hospital sent me a routine bill for an outrageous amount, saying “don’t worry about this, we have asked your insurance company to pay, and you are responsible only for the portion they don’t pay.”
A few weeks later, the “insurance” company, popularly known as “Blue Thieves,” sent me a statement, and the hospital sent a revised bill. These show that the insurance company paid exactly zero, but muscled the hospital’s fee down by 75%. Both parties expect me to pay the difference. In other words, if you are a normal retail customer, the hospital marks up your bill 300%. In my previous experience, lab costs are typically marked up this much or more; for other services the markup is often less.
To reduce your medical costs, then, just tell the hospital that you’ll pay what Blue Thieves pay, 25% of retail.
I put “insurance” in quotes because what they sell is mainly not insurance, in the sense of taking on some of your risk, but protection, in the sense of “we will impose extra difficulties on you if you do not pay us.”