Office Visit: The Cost of Health Care

Office Visit: The Cost of Health Care

Lee esto en EspañolBy Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D.

At the beginning of the year, you may find yourself resolving to improve your health in the months ahead. While your health is on your mind, remember to review the covered benefits of your health care plan so that you can effectively manage your spending and help make the health care system run smoothly. 

You may have seen recent news about rising health care costs, which have a ripple effect on our economy. Prescription drug prices continue to go up, and many people use the emergency room every time they’re sick or injured, even though that’s the most expensive way to receive care. Those with chronic health conditions may require extensive care, so even if you’re healthy, your premiums are combined with those of other members to cover costs for everyone.  

How, when and where people use their private health insurance are a few of the factors insurance companies use to determine premiumsPrivate health insurers help manage their members health care expenses by negotiating contracts with hospitals, clinics and providers. These contracts are mutually beneficial for all parties to help keep out-of-pocket expenses and premiums affordable for consumers.  

If you’ve received care in the last few years, you know that hospital bills can be shockingExpenses can add up quickly and may create financial hardships for families. During these uncertain times, when many Oklahomans are out of work and businesses are struggling, all of us can play a part in lowering the cost of health care. 

How can you help? Understand your health care benefits and know where to go for in-network care. Research hospitals and procedures to better determine your out-of-pocket expenses. Ask your doctor or hospital administrator about the costs associated with your medical treatment to set expectations.  Read your Explanation of Benefits documents and contact customer service if you have questionsFind available resources provided by your health insurance company to lower your health care costs. If you are a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma member, you can access cost-saving resources and tools in the Blue Access for MembersSM (BAMSM) portal 

It takes all of us to make our health care system work better, and we’re in this together.

Dr. Joseph R. CunninghamJoseph R. Cunningham, M.D. is the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

(For more Office Visit columns by Dr. Cunningham, visit The Journal Record.) 

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