Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cutting Costs for Your Health

Do you need to save some money?

You must ask for what you want

At 2 a.m. on March 13, we found out that Silent Sam was unemployed. We found out via an email that SS read because he could not sleep. He had been with the company for 35 years but the creditors had had enough and decided to close the firm. 

We sat in shock and separately wondered what was going to happen now.  Together we tallied up the points in our favor. We had some savings and we could both go out to find new positions. We split up the day’s needed activities. SS had to go on the computer and learn about filing for unemployment and I would go on and find out about getting health insurance. 

In the days to come, we discovered that we were lucky in two other ways. The company SS worked for had two pay day schedules. One week, the hourly employees were paid and the next week the salaried employees were paid.  There had been a glitch with the hourly employee’s checks the week before and they were given checks rather than having their pay direct deposited into their accounts. It seemed that if they didn’t deposit the checks fast enough that the checks bounced once the company was put into bankruptcy. Many of the hourly employees then lost 3 week’s pay when the company was closed. SS as a salaried employee did not get paid but we only lost 2 week’s pay.

Worse than that in some ways was that the health insurance was retroactively cancelled. 

Yes, that can happen. Soon employees started getting bills from doctors and hospitals that they owed a balance because they were effectively uninsured for the last few months.  Because we may have been a bit remiss in going to the doctor, we did not get caught up in this issue. 

So, there were a lot of people who were very unhappy, unemployed and having financial difficulties. 

While we had talked about doing some cutting back, we now had to actually do the cutting. 

Once you start, it gets easier!
This is where it got interesting. We decided that we could live without cable TV. We bought inside antennas – one for upstairs and one for downstairs. We could then get over the air (CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS, WFLD, and more) stations. This saved $120 per month. 

We then looked at our home phone service. We would have cancelled it but I have a parent with dementia and that is the one phone number that has stuck with him and I just could not cut it and confuse him. I did call the phone company. 

Now, I will tell you that this is completely out of my comfort zone. I am not much of a bargainer.  But I steeled myself and called. When I got a customer service representative, I said “I think my rate is too high and I am going to go to your competitor. Would you like to lower my rate?”  Within minutes (and I am not exaggerating) they lowered my rate by one-fourth. I also cut some of the “extras” on the bill and got it reduced in half. Yes, my bill went from $88 per month to $44. 

Based on that call, I called our alarm company. We had had the alarm for 7 years and during that time the rate went up $3-$4 per year. That call was even easier. I used the same line and virtually within seconds they lowered the rate 31 percent.

I then called our wireless provider. Okay, I was not terribly effective there. I did look at what we were using vs. what our plan allowed and was able to lower the bill $10. That did not feel like much of a win but hey, it was $10.

Are you wondering why I am telling you this story? And why am I telling you this story on a blog that normally talks about diabetes?  I guess that I want to tell you that -

It pays to ask.

You might get turned down but at least you tried. And if you don’t get turned down, you have just helped yourself. 

And realistically, when you are calling the phone company or the cable company, the people you are talking to don’t care about you. They either can help you or not; there is no emotion involved.  So it is worth asking. 

I am sure that you can think of things that you should ask about but you hesitate to do it. I would suggest to you that if you have insurance issues that you ask if your doctor might be open to work out some sort of deal with you for payment. Also, I would check prices on the internet. My eye doctor has suggested that I buy an over the counter product to use on my eyes. When I purchased it at the local chain drug store, it was $25. I subsequently found I could get it via the internet for $17. 

Taking care of your financial situation will cause less stress which can affect your health. Make it a game - see how much you can save!

Thanks for reading!

If you read last week's post, (thank you!) the wedding went off beautifully! 

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