I figured that, since I was stuck in jury duty all day, I could research what I thought was an impossible topic, “how to lower healthcare costs while improving the benefits”.
I knew that if I could figure this out; employers would be given the opportunity to choose to simply save the money, significantly improve the health plan benefits, increase the company’s 401k match, or achieve whatever other goals they had with this newly found opportunity. I knew organizations would finally be able to control what most believe to be an unmanageable expense
As a result of my research, I ended up on a call with a physician about a company he had recently started. He led a team that audited medical bills for self-funded health plans and told me a story that has stuck with me throughout the years...
He found a medical bill in which the hospital was charging the employer’s health plan for two permanent cardiac pacemakers. There was a problem—it was for one person and humans only have one heart. So, why would a hospital bill for two?
This physicians’ company received the hospital bill before the employer’s health plan paid the claim. After reviewing the itemized bill and patient medical records, he reached out to the hospital and pointed out the billing issue. After the mistake was realized, the second, unused pacemaker was removed from the patient’s bill
Since the patient only pays up to their max out-of-pocket, 100% of the savings was realized by the employer (because the plan was self-funded).
Said another way, if the member in this scenario had a max out of pocket of $10,000, they have no way of knowing that such a large bill was artificially inflated since the insurance picks up everything after the $10,000 (in this example). Furthermore, the patient has no incentive to see the total bill reduced since they won’t have to pay anything past their $10,000 responsibility.
I asked the physician that audited the bill, how much a pacemaker was. He told me about $50,000 on average. I was noticeably shaken. I said, “So, you saved the employer $50,000 since you were able to get the 2nd pacemaker removed from the bill?” He replied, “Well, we charge them a small part of the savings after it is realized, but yes.”