When January 1 hit our calendars most of us saw our health plans reset to start over on what the amount we have to pay towards our healthcare needs. These amounts are always higher in the beginning of the year to account for the deductible we must cover before some of our benefits start to cover our needs.
Many of us are now covered commercially under HDHP or high deductible health plans offered through our employers or self-insured policies. These plans are designed so that we personally cover a very large portion of cost upfront in our healthcare before the insurance company covers most of it. These deductibles typically range from $2000 to sometimes $10,000 for families. Then there is a maximum out of pocket expense co-insurance and co-payments that still apply. For most families these amounts are not necessarily money we have side aside waiting for use on our medical and prescription costs and can quickly become a financial nightmare meeting those expenses.
In my family we have been fortunate in many years to not need to push out all that money for our deductible. This didn’t mean it wasn’t expensive to go to the doctor or pharmacy but it seemed better than writing a check for thousands of dollars. Last year we did have to meet our deductible due to some unforeseen situations that resulted in a surgery for me. I could us fortunate to have had insurance but watching those bills come in with thousands of dollars on them seriously scared me. In all my surgery alone was over $10,000 in claims and it wasn’t even a major surgery! Having those types of high dollar emergencies hit a family budget is no joking matter.
As we enter a new year and those deductible balances are zero we could all benefit from some savvy ways to save on our healthcare costs this year. I mean doing something really tangible beyond what your employer tells you about putting money in your health savings accounts too.
Here’s some of my advice that I’ve used in our family:
Health Savings Accounts
These are wonderful accounts that you can put pre-tax dollars into and carry with you employer to employer as you change jobs. Any money you don’t use for healthcare expenses can be invested into IRAs and used for your golden years healthcare needs, like skilled nursing care.
The rules for most of these accounts are flexible allowing you to put a pretty sizable amount in the account, getting matching dollars from your employer in some cases and even earning credits from being healthy, not smoking and so on. I support investing in your account but use those monies wisely. Every little expense from a pharmacy pickup to co-pay can quickly eat up what you put into the account. As much as possible use it for the larger expenses and let the funds accrue.
Now what’s really cool about these accounts is you can often use them for natural medicine and natural doctors. You need to check the rules on your specific account and if it’s not allowed talk to your administrator about getting it added as an allowable expense. The reason is very often these solutions for healthcare cost significantly less and they are much more effective! The more we take control of our own health and use options that are effective, non-toxic and less costly the more we will see we are less likely to be at the mercy of the high deductible expenses and we can actually realize improvements in our health.
Let’s face it often when we start on a prescription medication we are on it the rest of our lives. That is expensive and not truly changing our health for the better. The more we can get to root causes and protect our health upfront the better long term we will see our health last and our expenses decrease.
A Word About Natural
I know essential oils and herbs are all the rage these days and some of you have not tried them, others have and not seen results and some are true believers. It’s a mixed bag and there is a lot of confusion information out there. Here’s the bottom line on natural medicine, natural providers, essential oils and herb and all the stuff in between:
You have to be a savvy consumer and find reputable, reliable, transparent and high quality companies, products and providers
You have to learn what works for you and how to use it for your needs
You have to have resources for accessing information (which you can get in this blog)You have to try it for yourself
The deal is natural medicine has been around well before western medicine ever came on the scene. Man had to find ways to heal himself, take care of his health and manage sickness with what was around him. There was not some guy in a lab coat with a prescription pad charging over a $100 for 10 minutes back in that time. Through that process man discovered how plants can help us and they continue to help us today. This is not to say providers are evil or medicine doesn’t work but when we use those things as a last resort we actually see improved health outcomes. We are giving our bodies things it knows how to respond to and can let it work through illness in more direct and positive way first.
The amount of knowledge early man learned about plants has been passed down generationally and we continue to expand this knowledge even today. We see major hospital systems, universities and providers looking to natural options today to fight some incredibly scary diseases and illnesses where our man-made medicines aren’t offering cures or solutions. I think we can all agree that ingesting a chemical isn’t always the greatest idea and it is downright scary with all the side effects it can cause.
When I first starting using natural solutions in our home I did some serious research to make sure I was making good choices in what I bought and what we used. I made sure what we could ingest was safe and learned how to use them in the right amounts and in the right way. As a result, my son is one of the few children who hasn’t missed school in over 2 years due to illness. We make fewer and fewer trips to the doctor and pharmacy. We pay much less than we use to for healthcare expenses.
I also strongly advocate that you include natural options in your care plan with your doctor. Work together with them on using these options so you both can see progress and changes. If your doctor isn’t willing to put every possible option on the table to help you achieve your health goals or realize improvement then he/she is not working in your best interest overall. I often use the example that if my son was ill and we couldn’t find a cure I would want every option on the table and I mean every option (including natural) to find a way to help him. Every parent I know would want the same. Don’t discount the power of natural solutions and how they can truly play a role in your care.
If you want to know what I use and to learn more click here: dragonspitapothecary.com/live
Assess Where You Are
One of the best ways to not only gauge your healthcare costs but also look at where improvements can be made is by doing an annual health assessment. Your insurance company or provider can provide you one of these. In fact, many employers require you get a physical annually and complete a health risk assessment to offer you discounts on your insurance costs.
If you want a less invasive assessment to set some personal goals and focus to then I recommend the Lifestyle & Wellness Questionnaire. This questionnaire focuses on you personally and provides you with a 90 day custom plan to help you achieve your goals. It is also free. Take it here: dragonspitapothecary.com/lifestyle-and-wellness
Knowing where you are starting from and where you want to go can help you form a solid plan for how to get there. When it comes to our health revisiting this assessment once or twice a year helps us refocus our attention on what we need and where our health is calling for change or improvement.
The Cost of Healthy
There is not a better way to gain control of your healthcare expenses than by taking over your healthcare. In 2017 it was estimated that over 80% of our healthcare costs (individually and family level) could have been avoided. That means 8 out of 10 times we could have self-managed an issue without the need for doctor or prescription resulting in billions of dollars saved in our healthcare system.
Can you imagine a year that you could go all year without needing your health insurance? Or maybe just using it for a preventative check annually? I don’t know about your family budget but mine would surely see a surplus in that situation. I could easily take our family deductible and give us one heck of a great summer vacation. My goal this year is to see that surplus in my family’s budget as much as possible. Want to join me?
I believe the best way to send a message to big pharma and healthcare systems is to start taking action to be more healthy and stop needing them so much. That is possible and together we can naturally move in that direction. If you’re ready to start click here: dragonspitapothecary.com/home-essentials