Do Co-Pays Really Save You Money?
Office visit co-pays make it easier to visit the doctor. After all, it is much more affordable to pay the $20 co-pay than it is an entire doctor visit, isn’t it? This may seem like the obvious answer, but fact is, it may be costing you more to have a co-pay type health plan than it would to pay out of your own pocket.
Consumers flock to co-pay style plans, simply because they are accustomed to them. Corporate America has made co-pays the standard. Most of us don’t even have a clue what an actual office visit cost. While an office visit today is not cheap, the doctor visit co-pay is an attractive benefit to health insurance consumers. Although, we must remember, nothing is free and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
Co-pays are most often an optional benefit within health insurance plans. In this case, you may be paying more to have the office visit co-pay option than the option will pay out. Some plans may charge in excess of $150/monthly for the office visit co-pay option alone. Depending on the cost of an office visit in your area, this may be double the price of a visit, meaning you would have to visit the doctor two times a month for the whole year to make it worthwhile. Have you had 24 office visits in the last year? Even if you have, you should be aware that most office visit co-pay options have limitations as well. For example, there are co-pay plans which have a two visit per person, per year limitation. Any visits above the limit would then apply toward the deductible.
People tend to believe they visit the doctor more often than they actually do. Take the time to look up your healthcare behaviors over the last couple of years. Most people can honestly say that they have not been to the doctor 24 times in a year. Do the math, if are paying less per year to have the doctor visit option than it would cost to pay for the visits out of pocket, than it’s worth having. Remember, when adding your costs, not to forget the actual co-pay amount.
Having a co-pay style plan usually results in a higher rate increase at renewal time. This is because these plan types will typically have a higher utilization rate, resulting in loss to the insurance company. The insurance company then turns the loss over to the insured by raising the rates.
Any money spent on office visit co-pays is not applied toward your annual deductible amount. If you opted out of the office visit co-pay option, any money spent out of pocket will likely then work toward your annual deductible.
You may be much farther ahead by taking the price you would pay to have the office visit co-pay option and putting it into a savings account. When an office visit is needed, you will have the money already aside.
There is no reason to pay an insurance company for something you might do. If you pay the premium for an office visit co-pay option, but get through the year without visiting the doctor, you have probably lost a good portion of money. Why not save it until you use it, if you do.
Remember, each plan varies, please be sure to review your policy, quote and/or brochure. For a free quote, click here.