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Some patients save by paying cash upfront for hospital services

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- More hospitals are offering deep discounts if you pay cash upfront instead of using insurance. An Excelsior Springs man says he saved more than a thousand dollars at one metro hospital.

Mike Harris needed a CT scan because of concern that he might have an adrenal gland tumor. With Harris's high deductible health insurance plan, the scan was going to be a real hit to his wallet.

"It was going to cost me $1,500. I got a $5,000 deductible. I said 'Doc, I can't afford it. You know, we're gonna have to pass because I don't want to do it'," said Harris.

So the doctor referred Harris to MD Save. The website offers cash prices for certain services at Liberty Hospital and some other hospitals around the country. Those services include imaging, lab tests and therapy.

With Harris paying upfront, his scan cost $400. That's $1,100 less than he would have paid under his insurance plan.

"That's Christmas under the tree right there," said Harris.

"This is an alternative especially for someone who never gets close to approaching their deductible limits," said Davis Feess, CEO of Liberty Hospital.

Or someone who's uninsured. So how can the hospital charge so much less? Feess said it doesn't have to go through the process of billing the insurance company.

"Two, we don't have to follow up with the patient to collect their deductible. And the amount of time and effort it takes to collect that, it's very expensive," said Feess.

The hospital also schedules MD Save patients at non-peak times.

"When I walked out of the hospital, the best feeling was not owing nobody nothing. I didn't have to deal with the insurance company. I didn't have to get bills from hospital," said Harris.

And he learned he didn't have a tumor.

The downside is if you need further health care, that cash payment won't go toward meeting your deductible although Feess says some insurers may allow you to apply it.