When it comes to repairing a vehicle or any electrical equipment, you want to know what the problem is first before you start to remedy the issue. The same is true for your physical health. Your family medical center should first and foremost, perform an accurate diagnosis to launch an effective treatment plan.
There are many medical diagnostic services you can get to seek the answers you need – depending on the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing. However, apart from the equipment, your doctor and medical staff should also possess expertise, compassion, and reliability.
Planning and Paying for Diagnostic Services
Thousands of diagnostic exams are performed across the country every year. However, they are neither cheap nor straightforward. Often, diagnostic procedures involve multiple stages to be able to pinpoint exactly what the problem is and ultimately achieve accuracy. Unfortunately, some corrupt and mismanaged practices take advantage of patients and will perform unnecessary and non-essential procedures; it makes the whole process expensive and confusing for you.
Thus, it’s crucial to carefully plan a diagnostic approach with your trusted family medical center. A professional medical specialist will recommend a diagnostic test. These tests usually involve an X-ray, MRI, or echocardiogram. These initial diagnostic tests can help your doctor better understand your symptoms.
If any or all of the diagnostic tests mentioned above reveal the root issue, the doctor can evaluate the cause and prescribe a treatment plan. On the other hand, if the results are normal yet you are still experiencing specific symptoms, then a more thorough diagnostics plan should be put in place so you and your doctor will better understand what’s troubling you. Either way, running diagnostic exams is an essential step in modern medicine.
Diagnostic exams are not like most consumer products. If they were, you could do your research, compare prices, check customer reviews, and decide on what to purchase. Healthcare services, in general, don’t work that way. Estimating costs will depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- The diagnostic facility
- The health plan insurance provider’s network
- The health plan’s deductible and copay requirements
In today’s post, we’ll tackle how you can adequately plan and pay for diagnostic procedures so that you can save money on medical expenses.
Insurance Coverage and Network
Before you start your search on a family medical center, check first if they are covered under your health insurance plan. For any medical procedures, the costs will be determined by your health plan; whether it requires you to pay full price, the deductible amount, or a basic copay, etc.
If your doctor and general specialist are both under your healthcare insurance plan’s provider network, you can expect to pay less, as opposed to if they are out of network. If your doctor suggests an out-of-network diagnostic facility, make sure to ask if he or she can refer you to an in-network provider.
If you don’t have healthcare insurance or if you have to pay the full amount because you didn’t meet the deductible requirements, you can always discuss your situation with the facility’s billing department. When you call, ask about the following:
- What the cash-pay price is. Often, you might be able to avail a discount if you choose to pay upfront
- What payment plans they offer
- What assistance programs they provide
- If they know of any charities or groups that can help you pay for medical costs
Diagnostic Facilities in Your Area
If your health insurance is under a point of service (POS) or HMO plan, using the diagnostic facility that your doctor refers you will be the most affordable option; you don’t have to shop around for diagnostic specialists in your area with the best rates.
On the other hand, if your plan is a preferred provider network (PPO) or an exclusive provider organization (EPO), you should look for a facility that is within your network. Keep in mind that the cost of, for instance, an MRI or any other diagnostic service, is not as simple as knowing how much it is. Different factors determine the total cost and can increase it; these factors include facility and equipment fees, a specialist to read and study your results, and necessary medications.
Furthermore, even if you find in-network options, the charges for the same procedures may also vary due to the factors as mentioned earlier, which will affect your expenses.
Check the Bill
After the procedures, you will start getting documents from your insurance and medical service providers. The paperwork includes the bill and an explanation of the benefits you are entitled. If the bill shows a lump sum rather than an itemized listing, call the facility right away; you are within your rights to request a statement with an itemized listing of the charges.
In a future post, we will tackle how to correctly read a medical bill from your family medical center and insurer, so it’s easily understandable and less confusing.