By Scott Charbonneau
Managing Director of Insurance Solutions
As a pastor, you most likely preach on biblical stewardship from the pulpit and also practice it within your personal budget.
With costs rising on everything from food to gas, every penny counts as you seek to honor the Lord with your finances. It pays to shop smart — especially when it comes to essentials like health care. Your best asset? A clear understanding of your medical coverage and how the system works.
Here are a few strategies to help you steward your money wisely when it comes to health care costs.
Understand your medical coverage.
1. Know your network. Provider networks can change fairly frequently. Always verify that your doctor’s still in the network by asking when you make the appointment. If you are given a referral, double-check they’re in-network. The same goes for labs, hospitals and urgent care centers.
2. Practice prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)*, unhealthy behaviors, such as lack of exercise and poor nutrition, are a significant cause of illness, suffering and early death related to chronic diseases and conditions. Regular checkups can help catch diseases early and lower your risk of facing high medical bills in the future. Most health plans cover approved routine preventive care at 100%, which makes the visits relatively inexpensive.
3. Get empowered with your Explanation of Benefits (EOB). After you file a claim, your provider will send you an EOB. An EOB outlines how your insurance covered your claim and shows you the amount you may be billed. If you suspect a mistake, contact your insurance provider. Many errors can be easily corrected — and that can save you some money.
Be a savvy shopper.
4. Go generic. Sometimes doctors prescribe the same medications out of routine without an understanding of how much they cost. Always ask your doctor if there is a generic alternative or less expensive drug that can treat you just as effectively.
5. Price-compare your prescriptions. Need to fill a prescription at a retail pharmacy? Shop around. Even if you pay co-pays, you could save money by looking for the lowest price. You’ll generally pay the lesser of the cost of the prescription or your co-pay. If you take regular medication, consider a 90-day supply through mail order. You could save money on co-pays and conveniently review lower-cost alternatives, order refills and research side effects and drug interactions online.
6. Find the right fit in a health plan. Choosing the right medical coverage is the first step toward saving money on your medical expenses. You’ll need a balance of cost and benefits — you don’t want to pay for more coverage than you regularly use or scrimp on premiums only to spend a bundle at the point of service. Estimate your expenses for the coming year, then select the plan that makes the most sense. It’ll help you maximize your health care dollars.
7. Explore extras. Most health plans come with discount programs that can save you money on health-related products and services. For example, telemedicine is now a feature in most health plans these days — see a doctor anytime, anywhere. Plus, many providers also have 24-hour hotlines with nurses and health advocates. They can help you decide whether your child’s fever warrants a doctor visit, give you wellness support or help you through a diagnosis or treatment decision.
Becoming an empowered health care consumer helps you save money, time and effort — all while honoring the Lord through biblical stewardship.
At GuideStone®, we believe when the body of Christ is healthy, it’s free to transform the world. We’re committed to guiding and equipping you and your ministry with a variety of health plans that reflect your biblical values. Learn more about our health plans for ministries and what will be the best fit for you.
Scott Charbonneau is managing director of insurance solutions at GuideStone. He has served at GuideStone since 2002. Scott has a Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from Baylor University. Scott has served in multiple capacities at GuideStone, giving him a vast knowledge of retirement, property and casualty, and insurance solutions for churches and ministries. In addition to helping clients, Scott serves as a deacon and life connection teacher at First Baptist Church, Hurst, Texas, where his wife, Kellie, is the preschool minister. He is past president of the Hurst Heritage Foundation and a board member of Strong Marriages. He has served on mission teams, sharing God’s love in North Dakota, West Africa and East Asia. Scott and Kellie have two sons, Keeton and Kyle, and a daughter, Kendall.