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Patients negotiate for care with cash

San Francisco Chronicle, August 29, 2012

Palo Alto resident Ed Lee routinely negotiates for his own healthcare services, everything from the cost of a scan to an urgent-care visit—often securing discounts of 30 to 50 percent off the original charges. Lee, 61, a self-employed public relations expert in the semiconductor industry, started bypassing his health insurance and paying out of pocket last year when he realized that premiums and deductibles were costing him more than $12,000 before his insurer paid a dime. With that decision, Lee became part of a new breed of healthcare consumer—people who pay such a large portion of their health costs that they're questioning the value of insurance.