Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How do I Afford Alternative Health Care?

by Glen and Dawn Depke

Due to the frustration of many American's with our current system of health care, really disease maintenance; many individuals are looking toward alternative health care to address their issues. This may be with a Traditional Naturopath, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Herbalist and the list goes on. One of the challenges though is that insurance often does not cover these services.

Both Dawn and I are extremely compassionate to this due to the fact that in me healing epilepsy and Dawn healing endometriosis; we both went the alternative health route and are blessed to no longer live with these challenges. But ouch…the financial aspect was overwhelming at times!

Let’s take a look at some alternatives to create some affordability for you.

First of all we can look at the health savings accounts. Many individuals have these plans through their place of employment but don’t really understand the utilization of these accounts.

A Health Savings Account is an alternative to traditional health insurance; it is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health care. HSAs enable you to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.

You must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) to be able to take advantage of HSAs. An HDHP generally costs less than what traditional health care coverage costs, so the money that you save on insurance can therefore be put into the Health Savings Account.

You own and you control the money in your HSA. Decisions on how to spend the money are made by you without relying on a third party or a health insurer. You will also decide what types of investments to make with the money in the account in order to make it grow.

You must have an HDHP if you want to open an HSA. Sometimes referred to as a “catastrophic” health insurance plan, an HDHP is an inexpensive health insurance plan that generally doesn’t pay for the first several thousand dollars of health care expenses (i.e., your “deductible”) but will generally cover you after that. Of course, your HSA is available to help you pay for the expenses your plan does not cover.

Consumers can sign up for HSAs with banks, credit unions, insurance companies and other approved companies. Your employer may also set up a plan for employees as well.

An HSA is not something you purchase; it’s a savings account into which you can deposit money on a tax-preferred basis. The only product you purchase with an HSA is a High Deductible Health Plan, an inexpensive plan that will cover you should your medical expenses exceed the funds you have in your HSA. However, HSA trustees often will charge fees for their services.

Another way to address the cost of alternative health care is to ask if the practitioner you are working with has a sliding scale. Many practitioners will take into consideration your current financial state when looking for payment. Often you may be asked to verify income and your current outflow also; basically your personal profit/loss statement. Often individuals are too embarrassed to ask if a sliding scale is available but hey, it never hurts to ask. You may save yourself thousands of dollars.

It is always a good idea to also ask if there is a payment plan available. Often the practitioner may offer a payment plan or they can provide you with an application for a third party payment plan that is very often interest free for a certain period of time. These types of plans are becoming much more common in alternative health practices. One of these companies is called Care Credit and you can visit Care Credit to find a practitioner in your area that offers this payment option.

Another way to address the cost of alternative health care is to attend workshops and often you can learn so much in this way at a very low cost. Often you can receive thousands of dollars worth of information for only a small fraction of the cost. I must admit that this is one of the reasons I often offer workshops on a regular basis. Individuals have the ability to learn the necessary steps to move forward in their goals of health and wellness while also sharing the stories and results of others in attendance.

I would also recommend that you ask if your practitioner has any day or time of the month that they accept donations for services. Personally, I offer one day per month in my practice as a donation day. I also know of other practitioners that offer either one day per month or some even offer one day per week as a donation. Once again, it does not hurt to ask. The worst that can happen is they say no.

I would also ask if your practitioner offers any packages. This is very common for practitioners that provide a regular protocol of healing that touches multiple modalities. Packages are definitely a way to save some cash while being able to address your health needs.

Another option is to seek assistance from a friend or family member. Often we have a family member that can assist us financially at this time of need. If you are going to seek this help, I would suggest researching the focus and direction of your health plan and already discuss this with your preferred alternative health practitioner. Most alternative health practitioners offer a short complimentary session to explain their services because they want you understand their protocols and direction of care. When you ask your friend or family member, they may be more comfortable covering your finances if they feel you have a viable plan to reach your health goals. I have recognized over the years that my client’s ability to create financial success is often directly tied into their health and wellness. It’s simple; when you feel better your life typically improves on every level.

Last but not least is using unsecured credit. I save this for last because there are so many individuals in trouble financially due to this form of payment. Even though this is less than optimal, it is of utmost importance to put yourself in a positive health state. Since financial stress is such a significant challenge for many in regard to health and wellness, please be sure to be addressing your mental/emotional health along with any health building plan.

You may be asking, “Which of these suggestions do we offer at Depke Wellness?” To assist with any financial difficulties for my clients I regularly offer workshops as a cost effective way to gain the knowledge needed to reach your health and wellness goals. For clients working with me long term, packages are offered that may be a financial output up front, but long term you can save hundreds of dollars. I also offer a donation day typically on the second Saturday of every month for my clients in need. These sessions are all 30 minute sessions and the session type is based on need. Visit Depke Wellness to learn more about our Locations and Services.

Remember that your health and wellness is one of the most important factors in your life and it is of utmost importance to provide the necessary steps to reach your goals on this level. Don’t be afraid to ask your alternative health provider for assistance in addressing your financial challenges.

If you are an alternative health practitioner, you may have found some ways to make life easier for your patients/clients or you may even have other creative ways of assisting that you can share. If you have any comments or questions, I welcome you to share with a post.

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