Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Shopping for Healthcare / Harrisburg Book Festival / Antique Auto Show

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Oct 5, 2017 8:00 PM
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On the Friday October 6th, 2017 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

The number of employers pushing high-deductible healthcare plans has nearly doubled since 2012, from 13% to 25%.  Lawmakers are looking to cut those deductible costs by offering individual health savings accounts hoping consumers would be encouraged to shop around for the best value.  This hasn't been the result, according to Amy Wolaver, an economist at Bucknell's Institute for Public Policy.

"Very few people try, and of those who do try, they have difficulty in finding information." Wolaver told Brett Sholtis of WITF's Transforming Health desk.  She found that lower-income and minority families are the least likely to compare pricing of health services.  On the Friday edition of Smart Talk, we'll speak with Sholtis about the difficulty consumers have in comparatively shopping for healthcare.

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Brett Sholtis - WITF's Transforming Health reporter

Also, the Harrisburg Book Festival begins this Thursday and runs through Sunday.  Located at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Café in downtown Harrisburg, the event will include poetry readings, children's book presentations and readings from regional and national and international authors as well as a keynote address from 2016 National Book Award Winner, Dr. Ibram Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.


Dr. Ibram Kendi - author, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Smart Talk will discuss the importance of cultivating a literary identity in Central Pennsylvania and some of the events at the book festival with Alex Brubaker, director of the festival and Catherine Lawrence, co-owner of the Midtown Scholar.

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Alex Brubaker - Director, 2017 Harrisburg Book Festival / Catherine Lawrence - co-owner of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Cafe

Later, the Antique Automobile Club of America's 2017 Eastern Division National Fall Meet runs through Saturday outside of the Giant Center in Hershey.  Every car conceivable will be there - from the Model T's of the 1910s to the Porsches of the '80s and everything in between.  Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the Antique Automobile Club of America, will join Smart Talk to discuss America's love for cars - an affair that has been ongoing for more than a century.

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- When I gave birth to my first daughter, I was on a high deductible plan and I was working for the health insurance company that provided my insurance. They developed a portal where I could estimate how much the cost of birth would be; I debated whether I should get an epidural or not because I could avoid the cost of the anesthesiologist and medication.

I think laypeople, even laypeople with high deductible insurance plans, are still getting used to what the deductible means; I think, due to changes that took time to implement, many people have just started to have the high deductibles. For the first time in recent memory, state workers had the choice of a plan with a deductible and many of them chose that option and were surprised when they had to pay out of pocket.

I do not think laypeople understand that if you go to a different hospital/provider that the amount you pay out of pocket could be significantly different therefore I think they don't understand that they could choose where to go for their services.

I think people are still used to HMO's and in an HMO a provider refers you to a specific place and you have to go there. I think it will take a lot of education before people realize that the cost of an MRI at one facility is significantly lower at a different facility.                - anon

- Even if a healthcare consumer "shops" for price, the price is not truly available.

Because I struggle financially, I called for and received a quote from my insurance company  for a routine screening procedure of less than $400.  I was told by the provider that I could arrange a payment plan and agreed to have the procedure scheduled.  I was billed $1500 by the insurance company.

I went through many phone calls spending literally hours on the phone, went through the dispute process and was denied even though I had valid proof of my quote.

I have absolutely no faith in our healthcare system.                                               - Donna, Newville

- If you have access to a computer, most insurance companies have cost estimators to compare cost for different procedures.                                   - Karen, Harrisburg

-  You seem to have Just ignored the most important part of caller's's have financial stake in many clinics, hospitals, pharmas...etc., and therefore a stake in how much you pay and where you get treated.  - D. Welt, Harrisburg, PA

Images from Antique Automobile Club of America's 2017 Eastern Division National Fall Meet

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