By Laura Lorta
There are some conversations that everybody knows you should be having before you get married–where you’d like to live, if and when you’ll start a family, who will be responsible for paying which bills–but there is one topic that never gets discussed:
How will you handle your medical care?
Healthcare isn’t something that young, healthy couples are really thinking about. As Travis Bockenstedt, Chief Experience Officer at Pinnacle Advanced Primary Care in Colorado, puts it, “We feel invincible when we’re young, but there are things we can do while we’re younger that can set us up for success in the future when it comes to our health and wellness.” One of those things is simply having a plan in place from the start of your new life together, and that begins with a conversation.
Questions You Should be Asking
Will you use insurance or an alternative medical expense plan?
Historically, the options for healthcare have been either paying out of your pocket or using employer-provided health insurance. Those are still realistic paths to healthcare, but now there are alternatives, such as Direct Primary Care and Healthshare memberships.
Direct Primary Care practices offer a wide range of medical services for a flat monthly or annual fee. These clinics remove third-party insurance companies and traditional administrative/overhead costs to focus solely on membership-based revenue. This means that they can provide more personalized care for a lower cost (even as low as $68 a month for an individual or $180 for a family).
Health Share Options are co-operatives in which members agree to contribute a monthly fee to a community fund and, in turn, receive money to pay for unexpected medical expenses. Think of this as a traditional insurance plan, but one with greater accessibility to funds in the event of an emergency or unexpected medical bill.
As a couple, you can choose your favorite option or cherry-pick a combination that works best for you, but making the decision early on will alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress when one of you does get sick or need care.
How will you share the responsibility of your medical expenses?
Similar to the discussion about who will be responsible for which living expenses, you should discuss how you will handle your medical expenses. Each of you could choose to have your own individual healthcare plan and cover your own expenses, or you could have a family plan that is paid for from your joint account. You could also choose to have a family plan that only one of you pays for, depending on what suits your lifestyle best. Keep in mind that healthcare-related expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States (one ER visit alone can set you back thousands of dollars), so this should be as much a part of your financial planning as your discussions about retirement and vacation funds.
Do you need a primary care physician?
This is a trick question because the answer is yes. Understandably, healthcare planning is at the very bottom of every healthy young couple’s priority list. After all, many couples are going into marriage with student debt or with budding careers, and you want to hold on to as much of your hard-earned money as possible. However, getting care from a physician who knows you and your unique needs is far easier, better, and more affordable than scrambling to find someone when the need for care arises. “It’s a priceless relationship to have if you have a Primary Care Physician who knows you and what’s going on in your life,” says Dr. John Dygert, CFO at Pinnacle Advanced Health.
Consider your family planning. Oftentimes, women don’t discover they’re pregnant until they are several weeks into their pregnancy, and then they have to play catch-up on supplements and other healthcare measures. As Dr. April Lynch, CMO of Pinnacle Advanced Health in Colorado, puts it, “Babies are like little parasites that take everything your body needs. If you plan on getting pregnant within the next year, you can [make changes to] supplement what you need nutritionally.”
Direct Primary Care Benefits
This budding model of healthcare services is a great alternative to traditional, fee-per-service-based care. DPC members have access to all of their primary care needs and can even reach their provider outside of normal business hours (think about that holiday weekend trip when you’re out for a run and twist your ankle). “People often ask, ‘Do you really give your number out to your patients?’ and I tell them, ‘Absolutely!’”, Dr. Lynch says, “Our members only reach out to us when they really need us, so I know that if they’re calling or texting, it’s because they really need to.”
Members are also able to enjoy longer, more thorough visits with their doctor and walk away feeling confident that their needs are being met. “The secret sauce really is time,” says Dr. Dygert, “We get to know people over the course of time, and we base our practice on health confidence.” For the physicians at Pinnacle, health confidence means the level of engagement patients have with their own healthcare and their comfort level in dealing with their health issues. The higher your health confidence, the greater your satisfaction and outcomes, and the lower your medical costs.
At the end of the day, your healthcare plan isn’t one-size-fits-all. There is no singular correct answer, but this conversation should be treated with the same importance as the ones you will have about where to live and how to raise your family should you choose to start one. A long and happy life together begins with prioritizing your health and wellness.
For more information regarding healthcare options, visit:
www.PinnacleAPC.com – information about services and pricing at Pinnacle Advanced Health in Colorado Springs, CO.