Most people are not yet used to the idea of paying out-of-pocket for better medicine.
Many parents are used to the idea of paying out-of-pocket for private schools to provide a better education for their children, even though they are already taxed to pay for public schools. Most people, however, are not yet used to the idea of paying out-of-pocket for better medicine.
Just like all my patients, I regularly pay out-of-pocket for services which improve my health and the health of my family. So, I try to make sure I don't spend any more than I have to for health insurance. Below I share with you exactly how I now save a lot of money on health insurance every month. And, how you could easily do the same for yourself, your family, and maybe even your employees.
First off, for many years I have had a low premium/high deductible health insurance plan that is eligible for a Health Savings Account
(HSA). Having an HSA is similar to having an extra IRA just for health care and allows me to pay for health care expenses using pre-tax dollars or to save that pre-tax money for future healthcare expenses. But, over the past several years, even the cost of that low premium plan has doubled! Yikes!
So, a couple of months ago, I was motivated to search online and make some phone calls to try and get a better deal. The result? I started saving over $200 per month on health insurance. That's a savings of over $2400 per year! And, my annual deductible is $500 less than my previous plan. I don't know about you, but that's not exactly pocket change in my life. I found that for me in California, I got the best deal by switching to an HSA-eligible high deductible/low premium plan through HealthNet. (Yes, I had to join the California Farm Bureau to get their group discount... a little weird but worth it.)
Many people I know are paying thousands of dollars per year just in premiums for their health insurance and aren't even going to their doctor or going to their doctor but not getting healthier. Why not reduce the amount you pay in premiums and spend your money on health services that will actually help you get healthy? Or, save the difference for potential future healthcare expenses? Especially for people who are generally healthy and just trying to stay that way, I think getting this type of health insurance really makes sense, even if they have to pay out-of-pocket for much of their medical services. But, please know, I am not recommending you change your current health insurance policy. I am not your financial planner, accountant, or insurance agent. Only you know what health insurance policy is best for you. All I am saying is, research your health insurance options seriously. If you think you are paying more for health insurance than you're actually getting out of it, you may benefit from shopping around for a low premium/high deductible plan.
Most people get health insurance for peace of mind about potential future healthcare expenses. But, just having health insurance doesn't actually improve your health or reduce your risk of chronic diseases. After the age of 60, it is considered "normal aging" to have chronic diseases, whereas "successful aging" is defined as having no chronic diseases and being in good physical and mental health. In fact, a recent study showed that engaging in multiple healthy behaviors makes a person 3x as likely to age successfully (CMAJ, October 22, 2012). So, if you want to have true assurance about your health, invest in getting healthy now.
Being in optimal health is your best policy for reducing the risk of future healthcare expenses from chronic diseases.
In my practice, I focus on health and wellness, not just chronic disease (although I treat those too). This year alone, I have helped my patients reverse diabetes, reverse overweight or obese, reduce or discontinue antidepressant medications, discontinue heart medications, discontinue thyroid medications, discontinue anti-inflammatory medications, increase their own natural testosterone levels, avoid surgery, reverse the side-effects of menopause, improve their appearance and self-esteem, and more! Is your health insurance policy doing that for you? If not, that's okay. Similar to how auto insurance works, you need to have health insurance in case something really bad happens to you and it is your responsibility to keep yourself healthy. But, you may want to consider paying less for health insurance and paying more for medical services which are actually going to help you achieve optimal health.
To your optimal health,
Shira Miller, M.D.
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