6 ways to save money when you can't afford health insurance

I always hesitate to share more personal financial things here in such a public place, but after having several people ask us how we deal with the rising cost of healthcare, I just wanted to share what has worked for us for the last few years. :)

We have been through nearly every scenario when it comes to healthcare- we've paid lots of money monthly for insurance, we've had no insurance and been cash-pay, and now we're part of a Christian sharing ministry. 

And you know what? We survived all of those years. Why?

Because the Lord is so kind and faithful to us. :)

In every scenario, in every season, His love for us has been overwhelming, and never more so than when we had trusted in Him that children were a blessing and a gift from Him.

I know you might fear how much having more children will cost, but let me tell you this: our Father God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns all the gold, all the property, and even all the stars. He can provide for you if you'll allow Him the chance to show you. :)  So that's my first, and very best tip for dealing with healthcare costs: 

1. Trust GOD. 

It feels scary at first, because you don't know what will happen, but I can tell you, you will be amazed by what the Lord will do to meet your needs. Money has come to us at just the right time, strangely in the right AMOUNTS--- bills we called to pay have been mysteriously given a zero-balance ---- oh, the stories I could tell you. Trust Him. You won't be sorry. He has helped us find the best way to get treated for whatever we needed. SO MANY TIMES. 

On Mother's Day this year, an older kiddo had developed a painful UTI (on the weekend, of course!).  The minimum doctor's visit charge was $140 (to get in the door) at the local Urgent Care. We knew we needed a UTI test and possibly meds, and went to our favorite Urgent Care to find that it was no longer an "urgent care" but an "emergency care" center. Which meant the cost to get in the door would now be $400-$500 AND they would bill you the rest (an undetermined amount). Which leads me to tip #2 for my cash-pay/sharing ministry friends:

2. Know the lingo.

If the word "emergency" is in the name of the facility you're visiting, you can almost bet you'll pay a ton more. If you have a true emergency, you probably (and appropriately) don't give a rip about the cost, but if it's an everyday cold or sickness in which you have more time to choose, you could probably find a clinic that is non-emergency or more "direct" to take care of you. 

Also realize that if you go to the true ER at a hospital- in most cases- you will pay astronomical prices for whatever services you're given if you do not have insurance (and sometimes even if you do!). And it makes total sense, because they're capable of handling so much more than a cold and they're paying for it all, no matter your sickness- the machines, supplies, rent, and the highly skilled doctors and nurses. Imagine the bills they have to pay! They provide outstanding resources for those who truly need them and it almost seems wrong to go there with anything less than an absolute emergency. 

3. Call ahead to find out prices.

So after we found out the cost at the new small "Emergency" clinic we made a change of plans and decided to go to the "Direct" care clinic where it was $200 to get in the door. BUT God. He totally reminded me of something I would have never remembered otherwise. :)

The Wal-Mart clinic. 

Praise Jesus for this:

It was totally empty on a Sunday afternoon. The kind Physician's Assistant even stayed through lunch to help us!! For $59 + an $8 test we received exactly what we needed, at just the right time. Oh, thank you, Lord God of all.

4. Let them know you're cash pay and then ask for cash discounts on your bill.

For regular (non-Walmart) doctor visits or when we pay the doctor's office directly (without insurance), we can usually get a cash-pay discount of 20-40% for paying in full. But another important thing to note: sometimes it's helpful to let the actual doctor know that you are cash pay too, because if they can, many will order fewer or less expensive tests and meds if they know you're paying the cost up front. 

5. Ask the doctor for generic prescriptions and if they have a pharmacy discount program.

I'm sure you already know about the $5 medicines at most pharmacies, but if you can, always ask for those specifically if it's an option. We forgot to ask this last time. But God. :) Our Wal-Mart nurse receptionist, bless her heart, gave us this GoodRx card :

You won't believe it, but when we went to order our prescription at the pharmacy, they wanted to charge us $98 for a 10-day dose of antibiotics. Our jaws both dropped, since we normally pay $4-$5! We pulled out the yellow card the receptionist nurse gave us (the one we almost threw away!), and showed it to them, and the cost (FOR THE SAME MEDICINE) went down to something like $11.

Crazy town. I tell you, the Lord is kind to us.

6. If you're a Christian, take advantage of a healthcare cost-sharing ministry.

Thankfully, our costs were so low we didn't need to ask for financial help, but if our visit to the doctor had totaled over $500, we could have used our membership to Christian Healthcare Ministries to help cover the costs. We give $345/month to other Christian families in our ministry to help cover their needs, and in return, they should, Lord-willing, cover our needs as well when we need them. :)

All of our kiddos are in the Gold program for $150, and I'm in the Gold program for $150 too (not needed at the moment, but you can share maternity costs!), and Rob's in the cheaper Bronze program because he's basically made of steel. :) CHM is not insurance at all, so there are no guarantees or approvals like an insurance company. You pay the ministry your monthly membership cost, and they give it away to the people who need it. It's awesome. We haven't had to use it yet, but we're thankful for the opportunity to share with other believers and to avoid being fined by the government yearly. (And we're also thankful to our friend Shaun (Abbie's husband) for sharing the name of company with us!)

So! Those are some of the ways God has amazingly and generously provided for us to save money on healthcare costs. I hope they might help you if you're in a position where insurance doesn't cover you or you have to pay cash for healthcare. Whatever your need, don't forget the most important one: Trust Him.

How are you dealing with/balancing the new higher healthcare costs?

Any tips or tricks for when you have to visit the doctor? I'd love to hear!!!

p.s. This post was not sponsored in anyway by Wal-Mart or anyone else, but that is our CHM Bring-a-Friend referral link above :)