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4 things that may surprise you about healthcare

1. The cost of healthcare has nearly doubled in the last ten years.

According to Forbes, the average annual healthcare cost for a family of four in 2016 was $25,826, for employer-sponsored coverage. In 2006, the average annual cost of healthcare for the same coverage was $13,382, or nearly half of what it is a decade later. When you subtract the employer’s contributions, families of four paid, on average, $11,033 for employer-sponsored healthcare in 2016.

2. We’re paying different prices for the same healthcare services.

Healthcare prices vary significantly for the same exact service. For example, the same MRI can cost 85% more at a hospital compared to an imaging center. The cost for a blood test can be ten times higher depending on which lab you visit.

You may not have thought about shopping around for healthcare like you do for a computer or car, but it pays to know the price before you go.

3. 73% of us don’t understand our health benefits.

If thinking about deductibles, copays, health savings account (HSA) balances, and your out-of-pocket maximum leaves you confused (or dozing off), you’re not alone.

The result is that many people miss out on free or low-cost resources they may not know they have access to through their employer-sponsored benefits. It pays to find out about these programs to take advantage of the support (wellness, maternity, behavioral health, legal, financial, and more!) they offer. That way you can avoid paying more than you need to for care.

4. Choosing the right type of care is one of the best ways to save.

According to the Institute of Medicine, up to 30 percent of healthcare is unnecessary. This includes visits to the emergency room (ER) when a lower cost urgent care clinic could have provided the same care, or getting an unnecessary test or procedure. When you’re sick you deserve the very best care — no doubt about it.

But more care or more aggressive care doesn’t always mean better care. The best way to avoid unnecessary care and costs is to be actively engaged in your healthcare with your doctor and ask questions to understand all of your options.

Feel a little bit smarter? That’s what happens when you use Castlight as a one-stop-shop for your healthcare information. We make understanding your benefits easier and help you feel more confident about your decisions.

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