I was driving through Seattle the other day when a billboard caught my eye. The large multi-specialty clinic where I worked for many years, and which I still use for my primary care, was advertising something called a “12-month deferred deductible plan”.
Huh, I thought, and as soon as I got home I jumped on their website to find out more.
Acknowledging the problematic trend of high-deductible health insurance plans, the clinic created a program by which patients can extend their deductible payments over a 12-month period, rather than pay the entire amount at once.
Related post: High-deductibles = delayed care
Who would this help the most?
Those with very high deductibles (up to $13,200 for a family of 2 or more) who need a lot of expensive care all at once, such as a broken leg or a cancer diagnosis or a pregnancy. In such cases, patients can be stuck with enormous bills they can’t afford, despite having health insurance.
A deferred deductible payment plan might lessen the strain on a family’s budget.
It doesn’t come without a price, of course. Repayment periods of longer than 3 months are charged 1% interest, which begs the question will this just increase medical debt for those that can least afford it?
And any costs associated with treatments that are normally not covered by insurance, such as Lasik or cosmetic surgery, are not eligible.
I googled “deferred deductible” and couldn’t find any other clinic or hospital that offers such a program. With high-deductible plans here to stay and probably becoming more common, I wonder how long before other health care providers follow suit?
Kudos to this clinic for creative thinking, and I hope it helps some patients. However, I still consider it a bandaid on top of a bandaid.