Growing up, my mother would test the patience of my father with a common statement, “If there’s checks in the checkbook, there’s money in the bank.” While I’m not certain if my mother ever bounced any checks, I am certain that my father didn’t find humor in my mom’s lack of ownership with managing money.
This same notion of, “If there’s checks in the checkbook, there’s money in the bank,” is one that my wife had with healthcare spend. Now I do need to make a disclaimer, my wife is a very intelligent woman who manages our finances extremely well and is a disciplined, frugal spender, yet when it comes to the money we spend on healthcare, her keen sense to where each dollar is spent goes right out the window.
The blame here, though, isn’t on my wife; it lies solely, square on my shoulders. As an Employee Benefits Consultant, it’s my job to understand healthcare spend. It’s my job to teach other people where their dollars are going. And it’s my job to promote consumerism in healthcare. There’s an adage that you should leave work at work, yet I don’t think the meaning was intended to ignore the realism in exerting your strengths when they support your home life.
For years, I have made our family’s annual benefit elections and just told my wife if there was a change. For years, I let her take the kids to the doctor and I managed the EOB’s (explanation of benefits) and doctor bills. And for years, my wife and I never talked about our healthcare spend. True ignorance on my part and a disservice to our family, my wife, and the notion of practicing what I preach.
Acknowledging that I missed the mark, this open enrollment, we tried something different – I didn’t make the decisions regarding the healthcare for our family, rather, my wife did. Sure, I had done the math, examined whether our company funded HSA or HRA would best suit our needs, and I came up with a suitable selection for our family, yet if I am truly going to get my wife engaged into where our healthcare dollars are going, it starts with the ownership of making our benefits selection.
As expected, my wife put on her “frugal spender” hat and dove right in. She forecasted our Brady Bunch like family (3 boys + 3 girls + My wife and I – the Alice) expenses and calculated estimated costs for what for sure needs to be medically accounted for and the “what if’s” of healthcare spend. Once her due-diligence was completed, we regrouped and had a really good conversation about, of all things, healthcare. Our decision was made together and started additional discussions about our healthcare spend and maximizing our consumerism.
So what did this teach me, to enhance what I excel at, communication. Having the support of my company, R&R Insurance, behind me, we developed a 12-step progressive communication process (12-PCP) which gets families talking about healthcare spend with a true focus on consumerism and maximizing both employer and employee dollars disbursed on healthcare.
I invite you to share in our 12-PCP. It’s worked so well for my family that now my wife says, “So, now that we’re interlocked with our healthcare spend and committed to understanding where our dollars are truly going, maybe we can look into completing the Brady Bunch and add an Alice.”
“Sorry, Honey, I didn’t hear you, guess I need to fine-tune my listening skills, too.”
For more information on R&R's Employee Benefits Practice, contact Jeff Sewell or visit www.myknowledgebroker.com/health-insurance.