New Monthly Shares Starting Sept 1

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Samaritan members recently had an opportunity to vote for a possible rate increase for our monthly shares (Samaritan Classic only). Members always get a voice when it comes to what we pay at the various levels. The board proposed a specific rate increase for each tier, and the creation of a new tier for larger families. The members overwhelmingly voted to increase the monthly shares, with an approval of 81.6% of the votes cast. It has been three years since the last rate increase, which is a very long time in the healthcare world as standard insurance companies have premium changes each month, often large ones.

The new shares for Samaritan Classic, effective September 1, 2019 are as follows:

1 person under age 30: $160 (no change)

1 person age 30 or older: $227 (up $7)

2 persons: $454 (up $14)

3-7 person families: $530 (up $35)

Families with 8 or more persons: $555 (up $60)*

*This new tier for 8 or more will not be ready by Sept 1, those families will temporarily increase to the $530 level until that new tier is created.

Also note: the rates for Samaritan Basic did not change.

 

As you can see, these increases are very very small in comparison to what insurance customers tend to see, as well as compared to how long it’s been since the previous increase. Samaritan members have done an outstanding job of keeping costs low for the membership through discounts and smart health care shopping. This is reflected in how small the increases really are and that it’s been 3 years with no share increases. However, the cost of healthcare continues to climb so these increases are necessary to maintain Samaritan’s ability to continue serving the needs of their members.

Note: In the previous 3 years, share rates were actually decreased 7 times when there were fewer needs than money available. No insurance company does that! 🙂

 

Open Enrollment begins today (Nov 1 through Dec 15)

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Ok everyone, get your track shoes on, open enrollment for health insurance starts today, November 1, and runs through December 15. As this is one of the most nauseating days of the year for its fascinating “train-wreck” numbers analysis I am able to report that this year was no exception. Our quoted insurance plan options went up again (shocker) and most importantly, the total cost for premiums plus maxing out the deductible officially crossed $40,000. So if we actually need to use the policy to it’s full potential we would cough up over $40,000 in medical expenses (plus premiums) that year. Oh, but wait, we would get free physicals. Pfffft, sorry, that’s not free! I’m still more than happy to pay for a physical out of pocket to save that much money! If you want to see the breakdown for 2019 please click here.

People, this really isn’t funny, because even though we are supremely blessed to have Samaritan in our corner, we are paying these high costs anyway through the products are services we buy. Hourly rates for local businesses keep climbing because of their cost to cover health insurance for themselves and their staff. The world we live in is getting more and more expensive and it’s all riding on the back of health care. Something has got to be done about this.

Samaritan Ministries and its members are working hard to keep health care costs in check. While members are getting discounts, Samaritan is also starting a new pilot program to help ensure we get fair pricing for every submitted need, because it’s not just the discount that matters, it’s the final amount billed which affects our bottom lines.

We are so thankful for our Samaritan membership. I honestly don’t know what we would do without it. If you are in need of something more affordable that offers amazing support and financial provision please download the free Samaritan information pack and feel free to browse this site for tons of information about our Samaritan member experience.

Paying cash for meds cheaper than insurance co-pay?

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Open enrollment is starting soon, November 1 to be exact. While I still can’t see what my insurance premiums options are until then, I am able to see what the drug insurance copays would be depending on the level of insurance plan we could get. (Note: We have no intention of changing to insurance, but I like to keep track of how much better Samaritan’s pricing is!) We only have one option for insurance on the individual market. When the choose the bronze plan on the insurance company website, it shows me what my copays for medicines would be. I have put several medicines that we’ve been prescribed in the last few years into their search fields to see what the pricing is today. I did the same thing with goodrx, my go-to for cash drug discounts, and made the comparisons.

So far, every single one of them is cheaper using the coupon through goodrx. EVERY ONE. While that will not always be the case, it is again eye opening how insurance isn’t really saving us anything. For one of the medications with the widest pricing swing, I called the closest goodrx pharmacy with the cheapest price to get their cash (no goodrx discount) prices, and make sure they accept goodrx coupons. Here’s what I learned.

Straight cash: $478.99 (90 day supply)
Goodrx coupon: $38.18 (90 day supply)
Insurance copay: $60 (90 day supply)

For a generic it’s incredible that the cash price is almost $500, wow. Goodrx will save us 36% over the insurance copay and 92% over straight cash! It really pays to do the research. The pricing variation for this one medication in the same town, across 6 different pharmacies with a few miles of each other ranged from $38.18 to $171.15 even using the goodrx coupon.

While paying cash and using coupons for medications is a great thing, there can be some pitfalls. For one, it usually means we get our prescriptions filled at a number of different pharmacies in the area. It’s worth it to me to drive across town to save $130 on the exact same medication. It adds a little more time, but the savings are definitely worth it. Prices should be checked periodically because they can change (usually annually, sometimes more often), and it may require you to transfer your prescription mid year to capture the savings. (Transferring is usually very easy and automated over the phone or online). Also, sometimes the cash/coupon price isn’t cheaper than an insurance co-pay. It pays to make a list of your medicines and run these comparisons. For many people they come out ahead each year, even if some meds are higher, simply because others are so much cheaper. And the difference between our Samaritan monthly share and the insurance premium also plays in. I can afford to pay a little more for any higher priced meds because I’m saving so much each month on premiums.

Once again, being a member of Samaritan Ministries instead of having traditional health insurance is saving us money and giving us freedom of choice. Even when it comes to medications.

 

Want to know more? Click here for a free downloadable information packet