It’s easy to be sucked into an ad’s hype, or dazzled by a hefty discount.
There’s no denying that online coupons can help caregivers and their elderly loved ones save on care services that may not be covered by their insurance. But, experts advise caution when using deal-a-day sites.
Robert Stall, M.D., geriatrician, and owner of Stall Geriatrics, says that that if you see a good deal you should, “go for it, but go into it with due diligence.” A caregiver needs to do their research and consult with a primary care physician if they are unsure about a particular service.
None of Stall’s patients or their caregivers has ever consulted with him about a health care service coupon, but he encourages them to come to him with questions about such things.
Why you won’t see general practitioners offering deals
Even though discounts on health care are appearing more often on coupon sites, it’s unlikely that you will ever see a seniors’ primary care physician offering their services on one, because—in most cases—it’s against the law for them to do so.
Doctors who accept Medicare patients are not allowed to accept discounts and must bill their patients the full co-pay required by their plan, says Stall. Most HMOs also have this requirement.
Remember, it’s just good business
Stall urges caregivers and seniors to remember that deal-a-day coupon sites are marketing tools that some medical practitioners use to generate business.
Coupons are—in their purest form—advertisements that should be taken with the same grain of salt that would be applied to a television or newspaper ad.
Most deal-a-day sites allow a minimum of “ad-speak” on their coupons, but, according to Stall, people should be wary of any service that hawks a miracle cure, or hints that a competitor of theirs is somehow deficient.
Ultimately, Stall says “when it comes to your health, word of mouth is the best advertising.”
Deal-a-Day Healthcare: Bargain, or Bad Idea originally appeared on AgingCare.com.