1. Consider an HSA or FSA
An HSA (Health Savings Account) is a medical savings account that you contribute money to (typically on a monthly basis) to help cover out-of-pocket medical costs. The great thing about an HSA is that the funds are pre-tax, so you don’t pay federal income tax on that money when you deposit it into your account. An HSA, combined with a high deductible insurance policy, can help lower your premiums and make sure your savings isn’t devastated should a significant injury or illness occur.
An FSA (Flexible Spending Account) is a similar type of plan offered by some employers that you can also pay into pre-tax. But unlike an HSA, if you do not use the funds in your FSA that you contributed that year you will lose any leftover money in the account that you did not spend. That can mean a lot of money potentially lost, so you want to be very careful how you much you put in your FSA.
Find out how HERE, or read more in point #5 below, for the best way to get expert advice on determining if your employer-sponsored FSA is the best option for you or if an HSA would be a better route to take (or pretty much any other questions in the healthcare realm).
2. Consider a Healthcare Sharing Ministry
Healthcare Sharing Ministries are a great option for many people looking to lower their overall healthcare costs. Instead of paying an insurance company a monthly premium who then pays your medical bills if you come down with a severe sickness or get in a terrible accident, you actually “pool” your money together with thousands of other like-minded people to pay each others’ healthcare bills. The non-profit healthcare sharing ministries act to facilitate the exchange of money to make sure everyone’s bills get paid.
You still have a monthly premium, and plans can vary considerably depending on what type of plan you get. They are typically less expensive than traditional health insurance, and there are limitations and out of pocket expenses depending on your plan. And in case you’re wondering, the first four plans listed below are exempt from the Affordable Care Act, so the new federal regulations do not affect them. The last one, Altrua, is not necessarily exempt, so you will want to check with them on their current status if that is the sharing ministry you want to go with.
There are five different Health Sharing Ministries you can choose from: Christian Healthcare Ministries, Samaritan Ministries, Medi-Share, Liberty Healthshare, and Altrua HealthShare. The first four require some profession of Christian or religious faith and some church involvement, so you will need to look over the details of those plans to make sure you qualify. The last one, Altrua, does not require a specific religious profession of faith.
We are members of Christian Healthcare Ministries and have been really happy so far. If you decide to sign up with them we’d love it if you let them know we referred you by giving them our referral ID, CHM# 173382, during signup (Disclosure: we get a month free if you let them know we referred you, but we would recommend them even if we did not get a free month).
3. Natural Remedies
So the whole idea of using natural remedies was a little weird to me at first, but over time the idea really grew on me, mainly because time and time again I have seen how they have helped me, my family, my friends, and others completely change their lives!
Due to FDA regulations (which is why this section is now different from its original publication), I unfortunately cannot go into the many ways in which I’ve seen natural remedies be a huge blessing to me and my family. However, I would highly recomend looking through our articles on home remedies HERE and how to get started on essential oils HERE for ideas on natural remedies to get started with.
Using natural remedies and eating healthy has helped us to feel more comfortable with a higher deductible plan since we have been able to save on healthcare costs in other areas as a result.
4. A Healthy Diet
We all know this one, but boy is it hard sometimes! (or all the time?) With so many high-carb high-sugar processed foods that are cheap and convenient, it seems almost impossible to “just say no” and chow down on the vegetable tray instead.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Rachel and I not only no longer eat those foods, we no longer crave those foods. Oh, you’re wondering how can we easily (thus the “Easy Ways to Save”) say no to a big ol’ bowl of cherry pie a la mode or a chocolate brownie drizzled in Hershey’s topped with a scoop of cookies n’ cream?
Two words (with a hyphen): grain-free.
On January 5, 2013 I left the world of wheat, rice, corn, and oats, and went completely grain-free. A month later Rachel followed. At the end of October I went almost sugar free. I’m 35 years old, and I cannot think of a time in my life that I’ve felt better.
In 2012 I got sick several times throughout the year. In 2013 I didn’t get sick once (and so far so good for 2014). I have more energy, feel better, think more clearly, no longer crave high-carb high-sugar foods (going grain-free broke the addiction), and the list of benefits goes on and on (and on and on and on). Also, if you’re trying to lose weight to reduce the risk of diabetes or heart-disease a grain-free or paleo type diet can help you get there.
I am not saying that a grain-free diet is what you need to do – everyone’s situation is different. But a diet high in vegetables (especially leafy greens and broccoli), proteins (meats/fish/beans), good fats, (such as avocados) and a little fruit (and as little sugar as possible) can help you avoid all types of diseases down the road. Plus, you’ll feel a ton better!
You can check out our recipes section for several great recipes to help you get started. The South Beach Diet is also a tried and true method not only for weight loss but a great overall diet plan for those wanting to eat healthy but not necessarily go gluten/grain-free forever (Rachel and I will be writing more about our grain-free experience soon so stay tuned 🙂 ). We also just purchased an incredible cookbook, Against All Grain, that is proving to be an amazing resource for grain-free cooking for our family.
And of course, make sure to talk to your doctor before making any large scale diet changes.
5. Find a Dave Ramsey Approved ELP
Rachel and I have been fans of the Dave Ramsey Financial System for a long time, but we didn’t realize until recently that Dave also has a whole network of Endorsed Local Providers (ELP’s) across the country that can help you find the best health insurance options for your specific needs.
You guys, this is HUGE. There are countless independent health insurance agents out there, and unless you know someone personally in this field you can trust (a rare occurrence), this looks to me like THE best way find a health insurance representative.
Check out what it takes to be a Dave Ramsey approved ELP:
- Have the heart of a teacher
- Put the client’s needs first
- Have proper licensing and active license in good standing
- Agree to help clients based on Dave Ramsey’s principles
And here’s what it takes to be a Health Insurance ELP (in addition to the general requirements above):
- Be an independent Insurance Agent actively marketing policies from multiple carriers.
- Actively market major medical PPO’s, HMO’s, and HSA’s
- Be full-time brokers (i.e. not a part-time job)
If you’re planning to go the route of traditional health insurance I would highly recommend making an appointment with an ELP to find better rates/plans or to simply find a health insurance agent that you can trust.
I realize navigating the health insurance and healthcare savings world can be a bit overwhelming, but I think these five points are a great place to start as you begin your journey in saving on healthcare costs.
What are your family’s tips and tricks for saving on healthcare costs? Feel free to leave a comment below with your experiences/ideas on any of the five points listed here or anything else you do to save!
Ryan Holland is an incredible husband and father****, and the reason that the majority of the day to day operations of Surviving The Stores get finished on time (yes, this is Rachel writing this because Ryan didn’t want to write his own bio. 🙂 ) He has a passion for helping get clean water to everyone and would love it if you would take a few minutes to look over how to help villages get water wells over at Living Water International, or how to provide an entire family with a clean water system for just $79 through Compassion Water Of Life!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
****Note from me: Rachel’s use of aforementioned adjective “incredible” is highly questionable and permitted only via great personal internal conflict. Keep in mind “incredible” has multiple meanings including, but not limited to, “not credible,” “farfetched,” and “preposterous.”
Full Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through the Dave Ramsey team and I am thrilled to be partnering with them to bring you more ways to save and get/stay out of debt! All opinions are 100% my own.
This post is linked up to Thrifty Thursday!