The Results are In...
The breaking point...
My insurance agent assured me that "this is normal" and "you will probably have to shop around every couple of years". So, shop around I did. We found another company, transferred all our records and health history, went through physicals (again) and switched companies. Imagine my shock when 6 months later THAT company sent a letter telling us that they were DOUBLING our premiums. We were pretty healthy in general, so we changed companies again, and this time opted for a "safety-net" plan. The lowest premium, but no co-pays and a high deductible. What were we paying? A little over $900 per month with a $20,000 per person (you read that right) deductible. SO, for a bargain price of $10.8k, and after meeting $80k in deductibles, we would have had superb coverage. This was the best we could find. The day came when I was crying when I wrote out my monthly premium check and I vowed to find a better way.
My gem to you...
1. Consider Alternative Coverage
It is a beautifully simple system. The costs are low for a few reasons. Because it is NOT insurance, the company can be selective as to who can and cannot join. Members are only allowed in when they meet certain prerequisites, like those who are generally healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle. They also can keep the shares low, because many things are excluded from payment that a conventional insurance system cannot exclude (such as alcohol or drug related injuries, rehab and birth control).
My family uses Samaritan Ministries and we have truly been blessed to be a part of this system. As of this publishing date, this counts as coverage so we are not penalized at tax time. There are other cost-sharing programs out there, and you might find another one that is right for your family. Feel free to comment to other readers about a program that has worked for you.
2. Change your Diet, Feed your Cells
This may sound a little hokey, but when I plan a meal or a snack, I like to think that I am feeding an army. That army is defending my body. If I feed my army empty calories (high calorie, low nutrient food) then they won't have the energy to do their jobs correctly. But if I pack those army rations with nutrients, they will thrive.
Isn't it amazing that out of the billions of cells that make up "us", if just one type of cell fails, it can cause disastrous results? This "army" explanation is great for the kids too, and I don't struggle as much when trying to get them to eat good food.
3. Shop around and use public health
It will take time and energy, but shop around when you are looking for healthcare. You may find that you would pay twice as much for office visits from one doctor to another. If you are limited to only one doctor, you can also check with your local public health offices or clinics. Often-times they offer a sliding scale payment plan based on income. The same vaccines and medications that you get at a private practice are often offered at reduced rates since these are usually not-for-profit organizations. They also typically offer free screenings for children such as visions and hearing, and vaccination clinics.
Your child's school may also offer free screenings in areas such as vision, dental and hearing. If this is the case, you will likely get a referral letter if there is a problem.
Another thing to consider are health fairs. Many communities offer free or reduced costs health screenings and blood-work through annual health fairs. Just check with your local hospital or chamber of commerce for more information on health fairs in your area.
Finally, when shopping around, make sure you check with your local and state affiliations (like cattlemen, wool growers, farm bureau). If you are carrying traditional insurance, sometimes you can get discounted rates through these organizations.
Here are some examples of ways we save money on just a few health related items:
-You can easily spend $4-5 dollars a pop on antibacterial wipes because you think they are cleaning up germs, but you can make your own re-usable wipes for pennies. Besides that, if you read the warning label on your beloved wipes. Are they really that healthy for you? Our homes were not meant to be hospitals, and we really don't need to destroy every germ.
-What about diaper salve, bug-bite cream, or hand cream? Make your own multi-purpose cream for a fraction of the cost of purchasing retail.
-Oral care is crucial to your overall health. You could be spending $2-3 or more on toothpaste or mouthwash that is loaded with unnecessary junk and fillers. Again, these are easy recipes to make yourself.
The beauty of DIY is that you can make items in bulk and maybe even swap with neighbors and friends. This way, you aren't paying for packaging and advertising. Many DIY items also serve more than one purpose.
I know a few dollars here and there doesn't seem like much. But when you add in the cost of time and travel, as well as trashing partially used items due to expiration dates, you will end up saving more that you imagined by making it yourself.
5. Change your Mindset
On the other hand, if you can find a way shift your mind-set to the positive and focus on what you need to do to remain HEALTHY, you have created positive emotions, less stress and better health! So what can you do besides eating right?The old sayings of fresh air and sunshine can do wonders to lift your mood. Exercise enhances your mood both in the short term and in the long term. Besides the obvious health benefits, you get the emotional benefits as well. Focus your mind on healthy habits like quitting tobacco, drinking more water and of course eating a healthy balanced diet.
When our family shifted our focus away from worrying about money and insurance, and set our minds to living a more healthy lifestyle, then our health issues reduced dramatically.
Another shift in mindset can occur when we realize that we do not have to rush to the doctor for every little sniffle. When you are in an appointment, use the time you have with your doctor and talk to them about when it is necessary to visit, and when you can ride it out. If you ask, they will likely give you detailed guidelines of when a visit is necessary and when you or your child just need rest and TLC. Most doctors that I know would tell you that they don't like charging for unnecessary visits anymore than you like paying for them.