When I left my job last summer to work from home, we went from having a Cadillac-style health insurance plan to having to figure out what in the world to do about health care expenses. Here are some of the ways that we’ve kept our health care costs under control.
Health Care Sharing Group
We opted to join Samaritan Ministries, a Christian organization dedicated to helping members share the cost of medical care. Here’s an explanation from the Samaritan website:
Samaritan Ministries publishes a monthly newsletter mailing that reports the total Shares and Needs and includes an individualized Share Notice for each member household. The Share Notice tells each household how to pray for a specific member with a Need and what his address is, so the Share can be sent to him. Typically less than 10 percent of the members have a Need in a given month and are receiving Shares.
When a member has a health care “Need” he receives health care treatment from a provider of his choice, collects the bills, and sends them to Samaritan Ministries. Samaritan Ministries verifies that the Need meets the Guidelines. Then, in the monthly newsletter mailing, Samaritan Ministries directs some members to send their Shares to the member with the Need. The member with the need receives the shares to pay his health care bills.
With more than 18,000 member households participating in the ministry, there is about $4 million available each month to meet health care needs.
We pay for our routine doctors’ visits and prescriptions, but for major issues (anything over $300), we know that there’s a family of others who will help bear that burden. You can find out more about this type of ministry here.
A few months ago I went to see my family doctor because I had a sinus infection. It was a routine visit, but it was my first one as a self-pay customer. I assumed I could use my debit card but found out that they didn’t take debit or credit cards. Fortunately they were fine with billing me for the visit.
When I got the bill in the mail it was WAY higher than I expected… $121. After I was done freaking out, I called the office. It took two phone calls, but they got the amount corrected to the $65 it should’ve been. That’s a pretty nice savings… all for asking a few questions.
Price Match Prescriptions
I have a pretty pricey ($160/month) prescription that I take daily, and it was my biggest concern when I thought about not having insurance. I like to get all of my prescriptions at CVS. I prefer that one pharmacy has all of my records and knows what I’m taking in case of potential interactions. I also like to earn my Extra Care Bucks for filling prescriptions. 😉 Their price for my pricey prescription…. $190!
I found out that CVS price matches their prescriptions. I started calling around to get the best prices for all of the prescriptions that I had at CVS. I was able to save $30 a month on just that one expensive prescription by having CVS price match to Sam’s Club. Now I do that no matter what we’re getting filled. I figure it’s worth the 10 minutes of phone calls to Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, and Rite Aid to save on something I have to buy.
Ask the Doc for Samples
My doctor has always offered me samples of my pricey prescription in the past. I always turned her down because I had insurance. I figured she could keep the samples for someone without insurance. Well, now that’s me! When I was at the office for that sinus infection, I asked them if they had any samples of the pricey prescription. (For $160 I don’t mind asking!) They had one set of samples left. I had to open some individual blister packs, but for that amount of savings that was just fine with me.
Take Preventive Measures
While we do go to the doctor when we need to, we prefer to take measures to stay healthy. We’ve been trying to get more sleep and drink more water. And of course we’re washing our hands like nobody’s business.
This winter we’ve added vitamin D to our daily routine. I think I’ve seen the biggest evidence of its effectiveness in me, the one with the weakest immune system. I’m sold on the fact that the vitamin D regimen kept me from getting the same cold that my husband & daughter had before Christmas. We’ve still had our share of coughs and sniffles, but I imagine they would be more severe and longer-lasting without the extra immunity boost.
We all have our Vitamin D preferences. I like Vitamin D drops. I can take them quickly, and they’re tasteless. My Vitamin D of choice? Carlson Ddrops 1000IU. Emma and Jason prefer to chew their D. Emma likes the Vitamin D gummy bears, and Jason likes Vitamin D Gummy Chews. We buy the chews at Walmart unless we have Swagbucks gift cards to spend.
I’m looking into doing a daily probiotic for each of us. From what I’m reading, a lot of our immune system is based in our gut. So probiotics keep things the way they should be. We got these Sustenex Probiotic Chews the last time Emma had to take an antibiotic, so we’re trying those for everyone for now. They’re quite tasty.
We’ve also started making our own bone broth. I make the Sticky Chicken recipe found here, and then I use what’s left to make homemade broth. I’ll be adding this to our regular menu so that I can cook with the homemade broth. It’s full of minerals that will help us stay healthier.
I’m still learning a lot about the whole matter of cold & flu prevention. I like the fact that there are many natural supplements that we can use. Sure beats taking cold medicine!
These are just a few ways that we’ve found to save money on health care costs. I’m sure we’ll uncover many other strategies in the coming year. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
I’m sharing this post at:
:: Works for Me Wednesday hosted by We Are THAT Family
:: Thrifty Thursday hosted by Coupon Teacher
:: Frugal Friday hosted by Life As Mom
:: Finer Things Friday hosted by The Finer Things in Life
:: I’m Lovin’ It Fridays hosted by Tidy Mom
:: Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie