Eleven Tips to Save on Healthcare Costs Related to Your Hashimoto’s LifestyleMar 31, 2021
When you first get your diagnosis, it’s usually a bit of a shocker. However, for many, it’s also a bit of relief to finally have an answer for all the years of unexplained suffering.
Once you get past the initial shock, if you have a doctor who understands how to treat the root cause, then they are likely going to start requesting a series of tests and bloodwork, all which are usually not covered by insurance. (If you happen to have it covered then lucky you!! Count your blessings!)
The next thing will likely be a discussion about cleaning up your diet, cutting out gluten, dairy, grains, and processed foods and switching them for grass fed pasture raised meats, organic produce, free range eggs, and a series of supplements to support healing your gut.
Next, you may be encouraged to slow your work pace, reduce your stress, and maybe even join a Yoga or Pilates gym to help incorporate healthy/stress free movement into your lifestyle.
Last, they will likely want you to follow up every 3-6 months until your levels are regulated, and you reach more of a maintenance phase. For some this takes a short time under a year, for many, they are years into treatment and their body just won’t stay in range, so they have to keep going every 3-6 months until they stabilize.
Now, if you are at all like me, each time I mention the treatments and lifestyle changes, I saw a dollar sign in my head and can just hear the repeating, “cha-ching, cha-ching,” just what you need, more stress to sabotage healing right?
Well, take a deep breath. Take a step back and let’s see if there’s at least one or two things you can do to help this transition to healing.
First tip: if your doctor has a VIP retainer fee, or it seems like your portion to pay is higher than expected, then first make sure they are in your Insurance companies preferred network of providers. If they are, then insurance will usually pay a higher percentage of costs when you go to a preferred provider. If they are not preferred, you can consider changing to a preferred provider, or if you have to pay out of pocket because they are not covered at at all, you can ask for an “out of pocket” discount. Many providers will offer a discount if you ask, but they won’t offer unless you ask.
Second tip: When they offer a treatment plan, ask if there are any other options, and if there is anything that is not absolutely medically necessary that can be cut in order to save on testing or lab costs. Sometimes there are labs that can be delayed or are not super critical to have but they will ask for them just to be ultra-thorough. If it is not absolutely necessary, then you can ask for it to wait so you can save on expenses.
Third tip: Before getting your lab work done, price check your lab options as well. Some labs have better rates than others, and I personally have found my local hospital to be the easiest to work with when it comes to paying on my lengthy bills. When I was first diagnosed, I was completely overwhelmed with expenses and was hit with a couple thousand dollars’ worth of lab work all at once, and it was also at a time when I was working with a smaller budget, as I was working less because I was so sick. Because the hospital is used to working with patients paying on large balances, they were extremely helpful to me in allowing me to pay monthly installments that fit in my budget until the balance was paid. I am so thankful for their flexibility in my time of need. Most hospitals will allow a payment plan, all you have to do is ask!
Fourth tip: Evaluate Medication. When they prescribe medication, you can ask for generic, or ask for their suggestions on mail order options, or pharmacies that offer the best pricing. Usually, great doctors have relationships with local pharmacies and can refer you to one that will take good care of you and possibly even reduce costs.
Fifth Tip: Evaluate supplements and vitamins. Now, this can be tricky. Many supplements are not regulated for purity and potency and can be considered a waste of money or potentially even hazardous depending on their actual ingredients. One way to get the best quality is to check with your local pharmacy, and especially a compounding pharmacy. Ask them what options you have to get the supplements you need and ask for tips on how to save while still getting pure ingredients. They may suggest a compound they can make for you or they may carry what you need already in stock.
Sixth Tip: Make sure you check with your doctor ahead of time that you are taking supplements that are absolutely necessary, not just for the random possibilities. Some supplements have great supporting studies that they are effective, and some do not but people take them because they seem logical, and they hope they will work. If you are on a tight budget, and you are making sacrifices to get the care you need, you want to make sure the supplements you buy are worth it and will have some evidence that they can help the healing process and are worth the sacrifice you are making to buy them.
Seventh Tip: Remember your “why” when choosing groceries. This is sometimes the biggest adjustment for most. Many people have been raised on processed foods, cheap breads, pastas, and filler grains that are all inexpensive and can really give that full feeling at mealtime with extraordinarily little expense. However, those same foods have been linked to a large portion of the autoimmune symptoms you are experiencing. Keep that in the forefront of your mind, so that when your will power gets weak, and you feel like giving in to poor quality foods or not wanting to sacrifice in other areas in order to spend more on high quality foods, you will remember why you are choosing to sacrifice for better quality.
Eighth tip: Check your area for local farmers markets or for imperfect produce. Many farmers have produce that is not the perfect size for grocery stores, but is still high quality produce, and they will sell it for cheap. You can also check into online options like Thrive Market where you pay a small monthly membership fee like $5, and you have access to tons of high quality, organic, paleo, clean ingredient foods that won’t break the bank. If you’re not sure where to start to find what’s available in your area, you can try a website called localharvest.org where you can check your local farms, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture to get ultra-fresh food and support your local farmers.
Ninth Tip: Exercise can be free! There are so many options out there depending on the style of training you want/need. I personally offer online and live virtual personal training and coaching, on a month to month membership, but there are also tons of YouTube Pilates and Yoga videos that are free to watch and you can do them in the comfort of your own home. You do NOT have to pay for a gym or a trainer, but I will say, having a good personal trainer sure does help with having custom workouts and accountability to get it done if you need that. So, having options like no long term commitment with a trainer to help get you started may be an option so you know what to do, and can phase into doing it on your own as your budget dictates.
Tenth tip: Check for Employee Benefits. When it comes to ongoing medical appointments and lab bills, check with your employer to see if you have health savings accounts, cafeteria plans, or flexible spending accounts with your employer. These can really help offset ongoing expenses and in some cases reduce how much you pay in taxes.
Eleventh tip: I’m scared a little to bring this up, but I need you to consider your other spending habits. Your health must become a priority. I’d like for you to check your monthly bills, are you spending money on things like TV subscriptions, Mani-Pedis, Cosmetic procedures, spontaneous shopping trips, weekend activities, restaurants, and clubs, or household services you can do yourself? If so, which of those can you dial down a bit or cut altogether so you can take better care of your body and heal? How might your family and friends help you achieve this goal as well? What extras do you have laying around that you could sell online or in a yard sale to help offset some of the medical costs? A good yard sale could not only help the budget but also relieve stress by decluttering your environment!
So, what are 3 action steps to help apply what you’ve learned?
First, how to help yourself:
- Check your insurance for preferred provider options.
- Negotiate a cash payment discount.
- Ask for alternatives with treatment and medications to see if there is something less expensive.
- Cut the extra testing that’s not absolutely necessary.
- Develop a relationship with a good pharmacy that will show you how to get high quality product and still cut costs.
- Ask your lab for a payment plan that fits your budget.
- Seek out local farmers and online bulk ordering for high quality foods that will help heal your body.
- Stay focused on your “Why” and don’t give in to poor quality foods that will just keep you sick.
- Review your spending, and cut the extras, at least some of them until you can get a handle on your health.
How to help others with Hashimoto’s who are struggling to cover the costs?
- Help them find good deals, go in together on bulk orders to help share the cost.
- Encourage them to not give up when things get tough.
- When spending time together, look for free or inexpensive ways of entertainment instead of spending freely and setting them up for more stress.
How to dig deeper?
- Check out the pennyhoarder.com for great ideas on how to save money and manage debt.
- Check out localharvest.org and thrivemarket.com for ways to save money on high quality foods!
I hope these tips are helpful to you and easy to apply. If you have questions or need help, feel free to contact me to schedule a free consult or submit your questions or ideas for my next podcast episode. You can reach me at [email protected] or on Instagram @coachsandyrobinson.
You can also find this topic in my podcast on Episode #13 of "The Hashimoto's Connection"