Sometimes you can to spend a little to save a lot. Even if you're the health-insurance industry.
A program that actually makes payments to patients if they agree to get treatment from less-expensive health providers saved eight health plans almost $12 million in 2015, according to an analysis by the company that manages the program.
The savings seen under a program called SmartShopper translated into a 7-to-1 return on the cash that health plans laid out, according to Vitals, which operates SmartShopper and contracts with plans to help control the medical costs of members.
SmartShopper offers cash to people who opt to get their blood tests, colonoscopies, physical therapies, mammograms and other procedures from less-expensive doctors and hospitals.
The amount of money patients receive varies from as little as $25 for blood work to $500 — per month — for a patient who changed the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.