How We Save Money on Health Care

 The average American family spends a minimum of eight hundred dollars a month on  health insurance premiums and has a family deductible of eight thousand dollars. With almost eighty percent of American workers reporting that they live paycheck to paycheck, it's easy to see how one medical emergency can cause financial hardship. I don't know about you, but every dollar counts in our family. We want to be good stewards of what we have been given, and use our resources wisely. So a few years ago we looked at the tens of thousands of dollars we were spending annually on healthcare and realized we weren't really utilizing what we were paying for.

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We began the search for an alternative, from going out on our own for privitized insurance to medi-share co-op's. We found the latter to be in the best interest for our family, both in quality of care and in financial terms. Medi-share plans, or health payment co-op's require members to send in a monthly share (this is like a health insurance premium) that is then used to pay other member's medical expenses. If our family has a medical expense we collect the bill from the provider, submit it to our co-op electronically via an app and then wait for checks from other member's to arrive to pay our bill. It's simple and cost effective and has saved us LITERALLY thousands of dollars over the past year.

 

Pros of a Medi-share plan:

  • Monthly expenses are less (we pay around $500 for our family)
  • Discounts are offered for cash pay patients
  • Less out of pocket expenses for deductibles. For each medical need we have (my sprained ankle for example) we submit every single bill from doctors
  • , urgent care, therapy, follow up appointments, and for supplies like crutches and braces. For the entire need our personal "deductible" is $300 BUT the medi-share company we use counts any discounts from medical facilities or doctors towards that deductible. So the discount the urgent care offers me for being cash pay will likely cover that $300, meaning I have received excellent medical care for an injury, at the facility of my choice, and I have no out of pocket expense. 
  • Freedom to choose any provider in or out of country, and potentially have travel expenses reimbursed (this is particular to our plan and varies by medi-share company)
  • Some supplements are covered. If your doctor suggests a particular supplement it can be covered by Medi-share since it is part of your treatment plan. As someone who values preventative care and supplements, this is a huge benefit for me.

Cons of a Medi-share plan:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not covered/covered in a limited fashion (varies by company)
  • Prescriptions for pre-existing conditions are not covered, but access to discounted prescriptions is available
  • The work of submitting bills and following up with payment is on you as a participant. I personally don't see this as a con, more as a trade off. Many times with traditional insurance I would be on the phone negotiating charges and payment, so this is no different.
  • Preventative care is not covered. For our family, the trade off of paying for a yearly well check is well worth the thousands of dollars of savings. 

I was so anxious about leaving traditional insurance because I had always had it. Now, I can't see going back. We have weathered everything from strep throat to kidney stones to a sprained ankle using our co-op (Samaritan Ministries) and it has saved us thousands of dollars. If you are wanting to make a change in your health coverage here are some things you can do:

1. Add up how much your insurance costs you per year - from premiums, to co pays to your deductible. How much would it cost your family if someone had to max your out of pocket expenses?

2. Research medi-share companies. A simple Google search will highlight a number of options, and for us Samaritan Ministries was the best. Read through their policies and procedures and call with specific questions. 

3. Chat with a friend who uses medi-share. Hearing my friend Betsy's medi-share experience was what really made me feel like I could make it work for our family.

Feel free to contact me with questions and I will happily share more of our experience!

xoxo,

Theresa

Miscarriage and Infertility Three Years Later

Three years ago we were headed to Atlanta for a conference and a much needed getaway. Nate was leading a breakout session, we were catching up with friends and were excited to have a breath of fresh air infused into our work with students. I was five months into grieving the loss of my dad and had finally escaped some of the numbness and fog of the early months of grief. I was also traveling with a sweet little secret - I was eleven weeks pregnant.

Miscarriage and Infertility

 

Pregnancy is a tricky thing for me. I’ve been pregnant seven times and lost six babies (one of the kids had a twin that miscarried), so while two pink lines signal joy and excitement, there is also a fair amount of fear partnered with those feelings. Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety about not only the life of the baby, but also about the possibility of impending heartbreak. I have walked that road enough times to know that hope and healing happen, but sometimes you have to crawl and claw your way through to experience it.

In the early hours of the next morning I had some light bleeding, so we gathered our things and went to the nearest emergency room. It’s a strange thing to hold onto hope that life still exists when the signs of your body and past experience lend so easily to despair. I cried my way into an exam room where an ultrasound confirmed that there was no heartbeat. I left with a prescription for the physical pain and was told to contact my doctor when I arrived home. I wanted the earth to swallow me up, or a magic time machine to transport me to ahead into the future so I could bypass the coming weeks and months. I told my friend Meagan that, more than any other time in my life, I wanted to get drunk. I’ve never been drunk, but anything that would numb my brokeness sounded good in that moment.

Instead, I chose a King Sized Twix bar, a coke and a Fitness magazine and headed up to my hotel room. The irony of this purchase is not lost on me, and I’ve had a good laugh about it since. I let sugar be my drug and I buried myself in articles about flat abs and the lastest cardio moves, because I didn’t want to risk reading a magazine where I would see pictures and articles about pregnancy. I would love to say that it was my moral compass that kept me from getting plastered, or the fact that I was a pastor’s wife at a pastor’s convention, but it wasn’t. It was the hope that they were wrong. That they had missed the little blinking light on the ultrasound that signaled a heartbeat and that life was still present and growing inside of me. I had heard of this happening, and I refused to give up completely until I was certain there was no more baby.

They weren’t wrong. The next week consisted of doctor appointments, returning maternity clothes without the tags and begging them to take me off their mailing list (note: they didn’t take the clothes back and I still got mail for months), and learning what our new normal was. A new normal that didn’t involve planning and dreaming and adding another baby to our family. A new normal where your brain counts the weeks and knows how pregnant you would have been, or when you would be delivering a baby. I had done this five times before, but partnered with the grief of losing my dad, it was like the first time all over again.

Three years later and we are headed back to the same city, the same conference, with the same friends. There is something significant about returning to the physical place of heartbreak once you are restored and that has been ever present in my heart and mind the last few weeks. I have been thinking a lot about the early days after each of my losses, and how I combed the internet for stories like mine. Stories about women who lost babies and what that meant for them and how they overcame it. So I’m here on the internet, telling my story today, and in the weeks to come.  I’m praying that it brings hope and life to a heart that was broken like mine, and that those who need it would find solidarity in knowing they aren’t alone in their loss. Hugs to you if you are grieving and hurting today. I promise - there is hope ahead of you.

xoxo,

Theresa

Master Bedroom Shiplap

Master Bedroom Shiplap

As a little girl one of my favorite things to do was to sit on my dad’s workbench while he created things in the garage. He was a renaissance man – he could wire a house, fix a leaky toilet, get your car running and make you the best ribs of your entire life. He built a house from the ground up by himself, with occasional help from friends, on nights and weekends after working his full time job.

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