HSA’s are closer to reality for 1 million ministry members

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Posted by admin | Posted in ACA-Obamacare, Self Pay Resources | Posted on 10-05-2017

A bipartisan bill has been introduced to allow health care sharing members to use HSA’s for medical expenses. There has been a bill in congress for a couple of years now, but it had stalled out. This one has a real chance of becoming law. I believe that for two reasons:

  1. Big changes are happening in the health care environment at the federal level. Good or bad, change is coming and this is the time to get an HSA bill passed.
  2. This bill has bipartisan support from the beginning. The earlier bills had many cosponsors but no oomph. I think this one can actually go the distance. Ministries aren’t small anymore and members have a lot of voting power.

This article, https://lifesciencedaily.com/stories/21268-bipartisan-bill-touts-benefits-health-savings-accounts/, talks about the bill and points out that there are now over 1 million people who are members of the various health care sharing ministries. Think about that! What was once a well kept secret is now actively used by a million people! I would say that’s for good reason. It’s affordable, logical, and an absolute joy to help fellow Christians directly with our resources (and not break the bank). Our need was shared 100%, and we loved getting the cards and prayers.

I am excited for the possibilities of this bill and pray that our leaders will have the wisdom to grant us this extra money saving measure.

Alternatives to EpiPen Soaring Prices

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Posted by admin | Posted in Self Pay Resources | Posted on 25-08-2016

Our family is fortunate not to need EpiPens, but we have relatives who do and the soaring cost of this life saving medicine is outrageous. It appears to be a greed grab by the drug company, although I’m sure they have expenses, I am appalled at how they seem to be taking advantage of people who desperately need this medication. If you are a cash pay customer then finding an affordable solution is critical.

My favorite discount drug site has an article about how to get epipens for less, including a couple of other brand and generic options that are significantly cheaper. Goodrx has  coupons to make these options cost about $142 instead of $600 for EpiPen. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist if Adrenaclick, and its generic epinephrin are acceptable and safe for your family. If they are, this may be a great way to keep costs lower. Localized shortages may occur as people find out about the cheaper cost option.

The article also points out an income based discount program offered by the drug manufacturer, which could work for many. You can read more about the options they present and get access to the coupon through this blog link: http://www.goodrx.com/blog/as-epipen-prices-soar-what-are-your-options/ and also good information is at this link: http://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/how-to-get-cheaper-epipen-alternative/ and http://abc22now.com/news/local/epinephrine-injection-kit-for-under-10?utm_content=buffera0634&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=WNMbuffer

 

Update: Public outcry has caused Mylan Pharmaceuticals to cut the price of epipens in 1/2 with a $300 discount card for those paying full price. Of course, the full rate will likely still be charged to the insurance companies, and the resulting $300 pricetag for cash customers is still too high. Bloomberg reports that the medicine inside costs $1, yet customers are being charged $300-$600. Public and congressional pressure to lower the cost created the reduction, I’m hopeful that more reductions will come soon or that the other options will boost production to ensure the availability of Adrenaclick and epinephrin for those who are able to use it. I’ve also heard that using a syringe and injecting the medication is an even cheaper option, but it’s not quite as simple as the auto injectors so talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if that’s an option for you and your family. Also verify whether it is as effective as in those situations time is of the essence and you need to be sure it’s going to work quickly.

 

Update 2: Americans are turning to Canadian pharmacies to order their epipens with huge savings as a result. Other Samaritan members reported these as options. www.canadadrugs.com, www.planetdrugsdirect.com, and www.jandrugs.com. Please do your homework to determine if these are good options for your family. Here’s a link to an article from a Canadian news source regarding the issue. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/08/25/americans-turn-to-canada-for-cheaper-epipens.html

 

 

Don’t Forget to Shop Around!

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Posted by admin | Posted in Self Pay Resources | Posted on 03-05-2016

Looking for the best deal is so common in most aspects of our lives. We do that at Walmart, online stores, car dealerships, clothing stores, furniture stores and even the grocery store. We look for coupons and sales, and make deals with salesmen. But shopping around for health care is just not that common for most people and it’s because of the insurance culture we were raised in. With insurance paying the tab we cared only about the copay and didn’t ever ask how much the tests cost and our way to save money on medicine was to ask if there was a generic option (a great first step). We forget that in many areas we can get our tests done at more than one location and that prices can vary a lot. We often don’t realize that the exact same medication can be wildly more expensive at one pharmacy versus another in the same town. We just don’t pay attention because we were conditioned not to ask. Pay the copay and walk out the door. Deal with the shocking consequences of deductibles later.

This habit needs to change and members of health care sharing ministries have learned (or are learning) how to become great health care shoppers. With the bills coming to us first and because we want to save the ministry’s members as much money as possible we are asking questions, shopping around and finding the deals we didn’t know existed. Schools have a desperate need to teach financial management skills to highschoolers and I am adding health care shopping to my list of curriculum wants.  It’s going to take millions of us asking around to get the culture changed. I recently read of a fellow Samaritan Ministries member who got a cash discount from the hospital for an MRI, but didn’t accept it as low enough so he went shopping around. He found an imaging clinic who offered him a rate 65% cheaper than what the hospital offered. Same service. The amount will be shared by Samaritan members, so he just saved all of us several hundred dollars by making a couple extra phone calls. That is awesome. We need to do this whenever we can. Ask around, shop around, find the deals. They’re out there and the health care industry isn’t going to turn the corner on costs until we can show each facility they are not the only game in town.

If you aren’t sure whether the price you are being quoted is appropriate, use a service like the healthcarebluebook.com to see what insurance is paying for the same service in your area. It at least gives you a starting point. Happy shopping!