February 8, 2007
If you're lucky, your employer provides you with health insurance. But if not, you're among the millions of Americans rolling the dice without it.
And if you've priced health insurance, you know it can cost you hundreds of dollars a month if you try and get it yourself.
But there's an alternative--a doctors' discount--that could save you money.
About four years ago, family practitioner Dr. William Rivell and other family practice physicians noticed an alarming trend.
"We saw a burgeoning number, a real rampant increase, in the number of patients who didn't have insurance," Dr. Rivell told News 12. "These are not poor people. These are normal people."
The doctors recognized that working people without insurance could hardly afford to pay for it out of pocket.
"As an individual, I want to get Blue X for example, whatever...the cost is outrageous. It's $1500 to $1800 month. No one's going to do that."
So Dr. Rivell and others got together and decided to offer an alternative.
They looked into it and found the law says they couldn't just offer a cash discount to patients without insurance, but they could offer their own plan...and that's how Doctors Direct was born.
"We charge $6 a month to join this club, and we have 150 doctors. It's a tremendous discount."
This card then gets patients discounts. Instead of more than a hundred dollars for an office visit, doctors charge $35 for a brief visit. The most patients ever pay for an office visit would be $95 for an extensive or complicated visit.
Kathleen Sanders uses Doctors Direct. She found out about it last year when she went to pay for her yearly exam.
"My bill was $240," she told News 12. "I found out that if I had the card, it would have been $63."
Kathleen signed up on the spot, and saves hundreds of dollars every year because she sees her physician once a month. For her, the days of putting off a visit to the doctor are over.
"I'll go ahead and go now, because before I wouldn't go--a yearly visit, I'd do it every other year," she said.
Kathleen also said she had been putting off her mammograms because of the expense, but no longer. With her card, she's now getting one once a year...for $90.
To find out if the Doctors Direct Care Card is for you, click here.
So how much does it cost to get health insurance on your own? Stedson Videon at Dawson Taylor and Co. Insurance priced it for us.
On average, for a family of four, with a thousand dollar deductible, Blue Cross Blue Shield Major Medical is $921 a month.
A health savings account is $654.
It is cheaper if you are single. Blue Cross Blue Shield Major Medical for a woman ranges from $265 to $561. It's between $193 and $472 for a man.
A health savings account ranges from $188 a month to nearly $400.