Managing Cash Flow

0

Posted by admin | Posted in Self Pay Resources | Posted on

This is something our parents and grandparents knew to do before health insurance in this country morphed into prepaid healthcare. As a member of Samaritan paying for healthcare is back to a more logical arrangement. We pay for the small things, Samaritan members cover the big things. But because of this cash flow is important.

For a small incident under $300, for a wellbaby checkup or adult physical, we pay all those ourselves from our own pocket. It is therefore important to have money put back for those visits since we often pay them at the time of service. A small savings account dedicated to medical/dental needs is important so that if we do visit the doctor for something small it won’t break the bank. We are saving so much per month compared to our old insurance plan we are easily able to put a little back in savings each month to build that pile.

For big events we need cash flow for another reason. While we know that Samaritan members will help us pay for qualifying medical needs over $300, it takes a couple of months before we receive that money. In the mean time our providers will want to be paid something, even a small something. So we need to have a little money in that medical/dental savings pile so we can give a good faith payment for a couple of months before we pay it all off in full. The amount we need to pay will depend on the arrangement we make with the doctor/hospital, but in many cases $100/month is sufficient to show you aren’t ignoring them, often times less is fine.

For our family, I think we’ll also put a credit card in the mix because we’re really good about paying off credit cards and I like to use the points. If we had interest charges on a credit card from these bills Samaritan doesn’t pay that. But if I time it correctly interest wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t recommend the credit card method for everyone because sometimes those bills can be overwhelming and if you miss-time it then you’ll have interest, which could be a LOT of interest. But if you know the money is coming in from members during August, then you could pay the hospital in early August with your credit card (or even late July) as the first checks start arriving. The hospital gets paid, you get the points or travel miles, and within a couple of weeks you pay off the credit card bills with the checks you get from Samaritan members. I wouldn’t suggest doing this until you know for sure which month your bills are being published to other members and how much is being published (in case there were additional discounts obtained, or if prorating was necessary). To be sure you have the maximum time available to pay off your credit card, pay the bill on the day after your credit card billing cycle starts. This ensures you have the full cycle month, plus the 25 day payment grace period before the credit card bill is due. This will give you about 7 weeks from the time you paid the hospital until you had to pay the credit card bill. That’s a long time and would help ensure all your Samaritan member checks have arrived to pay it back. This only works if you regularly pay off your credit card bill each month so you aren’t accumulating new interest charges. If you prefer to carry a balance on your credit card then you wouldn’t want to pay it early in the cycle because it would rack up that much more interest. Again, I only recommend paying with a credit card if you are paying off the bills each month. I hate credit card interest.

ACA forcing families onto CHIP

0

Posted by admin | Posted in ACA-Obamacare | Posted on

According to this article: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/01/07/moms-obamacare-hits-keep-coming-enroll-kids-in-chip-or-lose-subsidy/?intcmp=related  there are families who are essentially being forced to put their children onto state CHIP coverage. It’s like medicaid just for children. This is a problem for several reasons. Families who do not identify as needing medicaid and wanting to fully pay their own way are are now being told that these state plans are the only option for their kids simply because they qualify. These parents no longer have the freedom of choice. They are being given an ultimatum; either put your kids on CHIP or lose your subsidy for your family coverage. Also, there are many doctors who do not take new patients in the medicaid system, because medicaid and CHIP don’t pay enough. So for a family who identifies as middle class to suddenly be part of the state healthcare system means they may not have full access to medical care like they used to. Sure they may pay less per month, but many families are more concerned about access than quibbling over a few dollars. Pretending they don’t have medicaid can leave them as selfpay patients without the protection of people like Samaritan Ministries. For someone who considers medicaid unnecessary for their own needs, it’s almost insulting to suddenly be a part of it. Many feel shame, frustration and anger at being forced to signup for healthcare welfare.

It’s too bad I don’t see healthcare sharing ministries mentioned much in the comments of these types of articles. HSMs would help this family, and thousands more like them. Samaritan doesn’t encourage anyone to signup for a government program, members take care of each other without medicaid, even though some members may qualify for it, they just don’t want to be part of that system. I can’t blame them. I wouldn’t either.

It’s time to demand better pricing for healthcare

0

Posted by admin | Posted in ACA-Obamacare, Self Pay Resources | Posted on

For some reason people are willing to buy the services of healthcare while rarely asking what anything costs. Outside of the corruption and power grab of insurance companies, I’m not sure how this one industry is allowed to be so mysterious, I suppose it’s because when it comes to life and the ability to continue it, we partly don’t care. Fix it, make it better, take care of the booboo right now. But one of the best ways for us to drive down healthcare costs is to start asking the price. Start demanding better prices. Starting checking into the competition and saying, “hey, I can drive 20 miles west and get this for $2000 less. What can you do for me?” Insurance companies were touted as doing this for us, keeping costs down. But somewhere along the way they instead partnered with hospitals to mutually drive up prices and game the system. Insurance companies are not working in the patient’s best interest anymore. It’s time for the consumer, the patient, to step up and look out for themselves.

There are a growing number of ways for the average person to start doing this.

1. If you’re going to need a procedure, call around to check prices. Because of the ways different places can bundle their pricing information its often hard to compare apples to apples. So first try to get the billing code from your doctor about what procedure you’ll have. Then ask providers to price those codes. Don’t forget to find out if the price includes all facility, doctor, anesthesia fees.

2. Look at places like the surgery center of Oklahoma for total cost packages for various procedures. Start using sites like that to ask your more local provider why their price is so much higher than this oklahoma factility. Tell them you can get a plane ticket for a few hundred dollars and still save thousands over using them, ask them to consider a reduction in price.

3. Ask them if they offer self-pay discounts, cash discounts, up front payment discounts, etc. If you still have regular insurance it can sometimes be cheaper to not run the procedure through insurance at all, just pay cash.  For Samaritan members we do this anyway because we are self pay and thus can sometimes get discounts even better than insurance has negoitated. Sometimes not. It depends on the facility.

The point is there’s no reason to accept the first price they shoot you, especially if it sounds high. You’re probably being quoted the chargemaster rate, their list price, which almost no one pays unless they are being taken advantage of. Paying for your own healthcare is a lot closer to buying a car when you don’t have insurance companies in the mix. It’s negotiable. By keeping insurance companies out of it you are saving the hospital paperwork, headaches, and time. They can reward you for this with lower costs. Ask for it. Be polite, but don’t take their chargemaster rate and don’t take the first no as firm. Ask for the supervisor. Explain how you can help them get paid faster.

If enough of us start asking these questions and comparing services between facilities we can eventually drive down the cost.

One of my favorite sites for learning about how to do this is called selfpaypatient.com  It’s a great blog, with a new book out by the author. Tons of info which is useful to members of healthcare sharing ministries and those who are just completely uninsured/uncovered.