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.