Going Off The Grid For Health Care As Costs Grow

How do you manage rising health care costs? Some people are choosing to go off the grid for their needs.

MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA) — Open enrollment finally arrived this week, and with it, the unfortunate news for many Californians that the health insurance they already have is going to cost more — as much as 40 percent more.

Because of the rising costs, some people will opt to forgo getting coverage altogether, but others, like Andrea Eastman of Moreno Valley, are going off the grid to get some of their health needs met.

Eastman makes $14 an hour and has a PPO plan through her employer. Her chronic condition requires that she go to the doctor frequently, so she cannot lose her coverage. But as far as medication goes, relief for her and her wallet are just a click away.

Now, she fills her prescriptions outside of her health insurance plan, at BlinkHealth.com.

“It sounded too good to be true, so I decided to test it out,” she tells CBS2 News.

And so she did, to positive results.

The nerve pain Gabapentin that Eastman has been taking for years and which previously cost her about $20 a month is just $7.24 on the website. She just orders them online and shows a receipt a participating pharmacy. Combined with several other medications she now gets on BlinkHealth, she’s saving roughly $30 a month.

The Roth family of Agoura Hills is getting a bit more outside the usual marketplace for their health care, but it’s coming to their doorstep.

They’ve resorted to the old-fashioned house call, paying $99 per visit through a company called Heal. The cost of coverage for the couple and their 3-year-old comes to about $20,000, with a $7,000 deductible.

“For us, it makes a lot of sense,” says Paula Roth.

Dr. Michael Wermoth, who’s visiting Paula’s son Nolan on the day CBS2 is there, says, “We can pretty much do whatever can be done in a doctor’s office or urgent care.”

For the time being, it works for the Roths.

“Instead of paying a premium, we put that aside,” says Roth. “So if there were to be an accident, God forbid, or something like that, we have something set aside to cover the main expense.”

But what happens if someone gets diabetes or cancer?

“That’s a good question,” says Roth.

It’s a question for which there really is no workaround.

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