Healthcare and your finances: seeing 20/20 in 2020 

7 hints for hassle-free healthcare

From the January 2020 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

This new year, put yourself in the driver’s seat of your healthcare—and contain your costs. Here are tips to lower your hassle-factor and help get the most from your CHM membership:

1) Make sure you have the right CHM program for you. CHM has three budget-friendly participation levels, but the most inexpensive one may end up costing you more in the long run if you don’t understand the differences between programs.

The CHM staff always recommends participating at the Gold level. Unlike the Silver and Bronze programs, Gold assists with expenses from testing, incident-related office visits, incident-related prescriptions and some therapy and home healthcare. More information is available at chministries.org/programs-costs and by viewing Guideline G. Call CHM’s Member Services department at 1-800-791-6225, ext. 5993, to make a change. (Editor’s note: The CHM Guidelines state that medical expenses incurred from signs, symptoms, testing or treatment prior to switching to a higher level will be shared at the lower level. Reference CHM Guidelines G.4, R.5, Z.1 and AA.4 for complete information.)

2) Consider joining Brother’s Keeper, CHM’s program for catastrophic medical bills. The Gold, Silver and Bronze programs all have a $125,000 per-illness sharing limit. Bills for cancer, heart disease and transplants may exceed this limit. Brother’s Keeper is a low-cost program through which members share catastrophic medical bills. With the Gold program and Brother’s Keeper, there’s no limit to how much of your eligible medical bills can be shared. To learn more, go to chministries.org/programs-costs/brothers-keeper/.

3) Consider opening a savings account for incidental medical expenses not shared by CHM. CHM’s low monthly financial gifts enable many members to take care of incidental costs by setting up a regular savings account for health expenses that aren’t eligible for sharing. Some examples are dental care, vision expenses, doctor well visits, etc. CHM is so affordable that most families come out ahead financially by funding a savings account. One example is the Trudeau family, who recently saved over $8,000 in one year by switching to CHM (see their testimony in the October 2019 issue).

4) Whenever possible, comparison shop for health services. Medical prices vary widely among healthcare providers. Comparison shopping can save you and fellow CHM members hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars. A great place to start is healthcarebluebook.com. Another site, hospitalcostcompare.com, enables you to compare pricing among local hospitals and see how their procedure and surgery costs compare with other institutions nearby and across the country.

5) Ask your primary care doctor or other providers if they offer discounts for self-pay or private-pay patients. The principle of taking control of your healthcare costs isn’t limited to expenses CHM shares. Ask your dentist, ophthalmologist, and other healthcare providers if they offer a discount for self- or private-pay patients—you may well be surprised (in a good way) at their response.

6) Evaluate your ability to give to Prayer Page needs. Heartfelt Magazine’s monthly Prayer Page is a tangible means of expressing care and concern for fellow members. A small donation each month goes a long way toward sharing these bills from members’ pre-existing conditions. You can give online via the Member Portal, by phone at 1-800-791-6225, ext. 5993, or by including a check with your regular monthly financial gift.

7) Put together a “medical emergency folder” and store it in a safe, accessible place. This tip can provide great relief to your loved ones. To put their minds at ease, include all of the information they’d need if you become incapacitated and require medical care. Some suggestions:

  • Social Security number
  • a list of your medications
  • family health history
  • healthcare providers’ contact information
  • Medical Power of Attorney document (if you have one)
  • the CHM Guidelines
  • a copy of your CHM membership card and any insurance cards

A real-life example:

“Please learn what not to do from what happened to my family,” says a CHM employee whose father spent three months in intensive care, unable to communicate effectively for the majority of his hospital stay.

“My dad hadn’t named anyone as medical power of attorney, so I had to coordinate with three siblings across several states to make decisions about his healthcare. He was of age to sign up for Medicare but hadn’t done it, so I had to jump through some hoops to get him signed up. My siblings and I also combed through a lot of paperwork to find the necessary forms and documents. It made an already stressful time that much more difficult.

“My dad was a great guy, but he wasn’t even remotely prepared for his long and unexpected medical ordeal. I hope that people who hear my story will be inspired to avoid putting their loved ones in a similar situation.”

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