Are there examples to help demonstrate the effective way to use CDHPs regarding potential doctor or hospital visits?

The following scenarios illustrate some uninformed and ineffective ways to handle medical situations, and suggest more effective choices and outcomes.

Situation 1

You develop an earache over the weekend, and your doctor’s office is closed. You decide to go to the emergency room, where you most likely wait more than 4 hours to be seen by a doctor because your health challenge isn’t life-threatening. The cost is over $700.

A better choice: Because this health challenge isn’t an emergency, a trip to a walk-in clinic or urgent care facility or contacting a doctor using a telemedicine video chat is probably more appropriate. The wait won’t be as long, the care will be efficient and effective, and a walk-in clinic or urgent care facility be substantially less expensive—around $120 in most cases. If your plan offers a telemedicine benefit, your cost may be even lower.

Situation 2

You wake up in the morning with a runny nose and sore throat. You make an appointment with your doctor and sit for half an hour in the waiting room before seeing her for only 5 minutes. Treating your head cold costs you around $150, plus the time associated with making a trip to your doctor’s office.

A better choice: Call a toll-free health plan nurse help-line and describe your symptoms. Pick up the over-the-counter medication the nurse will probably recommend, and pay less than $10 in most cases.

The lessons to be learned from these scenarios is that the CDHP philosophy does not discourage healthcare, but rather asks the consumer to make more informed, educated choices. Sometimes significant financial costs cannot be avoided, and that’s what health insurance is designed to cover—the unexpected. However, many small and medium costs can be avoided by exercising preventive care and making smarter, more informed decisions, resulting in increased personal savings. If your company is large enough to be underwritten based on your company’s claims experience (also known as experience rating), this type of behavior change will help you lower costs without sacrificing quality or avoiding necessary care.

Coaches' Takeaway

Once you become an educated consumer and grow more comfortable with using your CDHP and spending account, you will find a whole range of high-quality, less expensive (and equally effective) options to handle many of the medical issues you may face. Remember, one of the best parts about having a CDHP and spending account is that you are the one who is in charge.

Tools & Resources

CDHPCoach’s Storage Facility, where the Coach has organized and compiled a vast amount of tools and resources for you to access.


Housed here are key components and information within the book, Bend the Healthcare Trend which was the impetus behind the CDHPCoach.