When it comes to insurance, some people put material things above their health. They actually put car insurance first over their health. Your health and mindset should be your priorities, especially now with COVID. Learn more about health insurance with your host Michelle Faust and her guest Dr. Wendy Labat. Wendy is the CEO of The Financial Cures LLC. She is also the bestselling author of The Financial Cures. Join Wendy as she discusses the importance of health insurance. Also, discover how a positive mindset helped her in her battle against cancer. Get that positive mindset today by listening to this episode!
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Putting Health Over Wealth: Getting Started In Health Insurance With Dr. Wendy Labat
I’m excited to have you at another part of The Lemonade Stand Book 2 Series with another amazing author, Dr. Wendy Labat. She is someone I’ve known for quite a while. I’m excited that she’s on board with this project with me. Welcome, Wendy.
Thanks for having me on. I’m so excited about being your guest and an author in The Lemonade Stand Book 2.
We’ve got a lot of things that are going on now, even more so than Book 1. You’ve been a part of a couple of projects of mine. I feel like you must trust me.
It’s always a great thing. I was delighted when you wanted to join up and share your story, which is a twofold story. We always want people to buy the book and not hear the whole story behind what’s going on while we’re on the show. Yours is essentially a journey through breast cancer that at the same time, how fortunate you were to have been well set up financially from an insurance standpoint. That’s where I would move the conversation to because so oftentimes, people feel like they have their insurance, “I have my work insurance. I have this and that, and I’m fine.”
I know you were fully insured in many areas because you walk the walk and talk the talk, and that’s your business. What are you telling people who feel like they’re well insured? What are all of the items that are not covered, or the unexpected, or the things that add up that you don’t consider when you’re with an illness?
What I find is that people put material things above their health when it comes to insurance. They’ll do their car, house, phones and businesses. I don’t know if they think they’re invincible. What I find is that a lot of people, especially folks that are healthy and are in a position to get insurance, are the ones that think they don’t need it because they are healthy. That’s the wrong way or mindset to have. When you’re healthy is the time to get it. When you lose your health, you want it but you can’t get it.When it comes to insurance, some people put material things above their health. You're not invincible. Click To Tweet
I had mine not because it was a personal financial strategy. It was because I was in the business and didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I thank the Lord for that because had I not been in the business, to be honest with you, I don’t think I would have had all that extra coverage. I would have had health insurance and some life insurance, but I wouldn’t have had to live in the benefits that cancer covers and all the stuff that brought me into significant income.
When I was writing my chapter in the book, I told Corinne, our editor, about my $67,000 a month, every three-week, four-year chemo bills. She said, “Calculate that out.” I did. It was like $1.137 million. Even until this day, that took me aback because I still am not over that. Even though I didn’t have to pay for it, it’s just the thought of I would have had to pay for it. It still makes me shudder to think about it.
Many people underestimate the cost of an illness. I had breast cancer but what about folks that have strokes or heart attacks? They have similar medical bills. Not just that, if you have a stroke and you become physically disabled, that’s another set of expenses that you’ll incur by refitting your house and getting someone to help you. They’re things that people take for granted when it comes to their health.
The thing that I think too is they simply don’t think about it. For instance, I’m sure you would have well over a lifetime maximum if you didn’t have the extra coverage. Your average coverage might be $1 million or maybe not a lifetime but certainly probably within that years’ time. The other thing is your loss of income. You’re not working and that paycheck isn’t coming in either.
Fortunately, my business was self-sufficient. I had good people, so I didn’t have to be there for it to continue to run and for that income to continue in. I’d say with the Affordable Care Act laws, there is no maximum lifetime benefit. That’s a plus. A lot of people are like, “I don’t like that Obamacare,” or whatever, but they don’t realize the benefits that are in that bill or that law. Pre-existing illnesses aren’t applicable now. A lot of people still don’t have health insurance.
Even though they are entitled to and they can get it, they still don’t take the time to enroll during the open enrollment. That’s my crusade. I try to get as many people enrolled, inform as many people of the benefits of having coverage, and tell my story. I’m a living example. I never thought I’d get breast cancer. It doesn’t run in my family but the fact that I got it could have ruined me financially.
I try to make sure that people are aware and people give it some thought. Now we’re in a pandemic. A lot of those people are dying. If they aren’t dying, they still have those symptoms beyond their recovery. You have to be in a position to protect yourself, not just for the physical protection but for your financial protection.
It gets pretty complex, which thank goodness for people like you who can walk us through and have us understand because my daughter was changing her insurance. I tried to help her and it was a struggle to compare the apples to apple thing. Where do I compromise? Do I compromise at monthly premiums or compromise in a little bit more out of pocket or deductible? It is pretty confusing. I know that one of the things that you’ve done to help folks out there is that you have your new book out, The Financial Cures. Do you walk them through the insurance details as well?
In this particular book, I don’t get into the details. When I’ve talked to my clients or potential clients to enroll them in healthcare especially, I explain the importance. People don’t understand that there’s a cost to having health insurance and there’s a cost to using it. You can have health insurance which can be cheap or low monthly premium. If you get a high deductible like a $10,000 deductible, you’re basically self-insured until you reach that $10,000 threshold.
I explained to them, “Do you want to pay a few dollars more a month or save a few pennies a month and pay an astronomical deductible?” I give them the numbers and the reality. When you look at it and understand how those numbers come into play, they usually choose to pay a little more. The main thing you want to look at when you’re selecting a health insurance plan is the deductible first because that’s when the insurance is going to kick in. You then want to look at your maximum out-of-pocket because there is a maximum that once you hit that maximum, you can have brain surgery and the only thing you’ll pay is your premium.
You want to look at your copays and you want a set copay. You don’t want a percentage of anything when it comes to your primary care physician or specialist. You don’t want a $10 copay, then a 35% copay for your specialist. You want to set the number so when you go into that doctor’s office, you know what your copay is going to be. That copay, if you have a deductible, chips away at your deductible and your maximum out-of-pocket.
The priority is the deductible maximum out-of-pocket copays. You then look at the premium. The premium is the least important factor even though you have to pay it every month. You can sweat it out. The things that you spend money on that you don’t have to like the Starbucks coffee every day. That can pay your premium or the difference in the premium with the lower deductible.
You have to get the mindset right, understand the priorities, and evaluate what the plan offers. A lot of plans are HMOs. They’re like, “I don’t want an HMO. I don’t want to switch my doctor,” but my thing is the doctor chooses who they want to accept. They go through the process to get approved by these different companies.
My thing is if your doctor is not willing to get on the plan that you have, you need to switch to a doctor that’s on that plan. I’ve had that story with a lot of clients, “I don’t want to switch doctors.” I was like, “If you go with a plan and pay the out-of-network costs, this is what it’s going to cost you.” The next thing I know, they’re getting a call, “Let me find a new doctor.” Your doctor has to be as committed to you as you are to them.Your doctor has to be just as committed to you as you are to them. Click To Tweet
My rule of thumb is to just stay healthy.
That’s a good thing but with this pandemic, you can try but there’s no guarantee.
Fortunately, I have been very healthy all of my life. It is hard to put the mindset on spending a lot of money on insurance or whatnot. However, I’m of a certain age.
It’s unfortunate because the older we get, and I do seniors and Medicare. People on the Affordable Care Act plans are younger and not necessarily healthier, but they have better coverage. Medicare is regulated, and there are a lot of things about Medicare that they don’t tell people when they get Medicare when they age. They don’t tell you that there are lifetime penalties if you don’t have prescription drug coverage.
Even if you never take a prescription in your life, you still have to have coverage. They don’t tell you that you pay for your Part B premium regardless. If you decide you don’t want to pay it and don’t get it, there’s a penalty for that. They are all penalties factored in that people aren’t aware of. They’re looking at the dollars. Sometimes you have to pay a little bit, especially when it comes to your health. The older you get, the more likely are you are to have to use your health insurance. It’s getting better.
I think that’s because there’s so much talk about it. We’re not going to get into the political aspect of it. There’s so much awareness out there. We took it for granted at a period when so many people had real jobs. Many entrepreneurs out there are trying to do it on their own. It was a given that you are going to get a job, and that job is going to have benefits. That’s what you got, what you were happy with, and we have traces to make. What you say about priority is true. Do I get my nails done or that cup of coffee? We’re thrilled and we want our thing. If you don’t have your health, what do you have?
It’s not nearly as much as you think, and I can testify to that because your health is your wealth. I don’t care how much money you have, if you don’t have your health, what good is it? I posted something on Facebook, talking about your mindset is the biggest asset you have. After I thought about it, is it your mindset or your health? After going through breast cancer, it is your mindset because you have to have a positive mindset to get through any obstacles, whether it’s your health or finances or whatever.
Everyone I spoke with that had been a breast cancer conqueror, the first thing they would tell me was to stay positive. No matter who it was, they were in different circles and financial levels. They all said what got me through it was being positive. I was positive and that did get me through it. You never know what you’ve been through until you’re on the other side. Now that I’m on the other side, I started thinking about it.
It seems like it’s bothering me more now than it was when I went through it. Thinking about the financial situation that beating my body took, and thanking the Lord that he brought me through. I’m on the other side with a new business and a crusade to help others. You don’t realize the battle you fought until you win the battle. I’m thankful every day.
I know you are because we’re Facebook friends. I see your post every day. They are very positive and much about mindset. I remember in Chapter 2, one thing that struck me was that due to your faith but also because it’s who you are and who your mindset is, you almost didn’t worry about it. It seems like I remember reading where it wasn’t that you wouldn’t worry, but you didn’t waste your energy and time worrying about it.
I got a sense of peace. When I read that diagnosis, a sense of peace came over me, letting me know that I didn’t have to worry. I was furious with that doctor that wouldn’t even give me the time of day to tell me what my results were. I didn’t hear from her office until the next year. They had the nerve to ask me to schedule my annual physical. It’s like, “Take my name out of your network.” I know she had to read the results.
Any kind of doctor is going to see the results of their patients. She saw that I had breast cancer. Her office people saw it because they’re the ones that put the results together to give it to me in that sealed envelope. I was furious at first but I was like, “Lord, I’m not wasting my energy on that. Where do I go from here?” I knew I couldn’t go back in there to get any referral. He led me to call my friend who was a breast cancer conqueror.
That was the best move that even though her doctor couldn’t help me, they directed me to the Winship Cancer Institute that could and they were on it. They didn’t waste any time and called me back in minutes, giving me that information. I called the Cancer Institute. In minutes, I had an appointment within three days.
That’s what I needed. Somebody who was going to take the ball and run with it. I could have sat there, boohoo, be upset and poor me, but that’s not the person I am. The spirit said, “I’m leading you.” I just followed. I was being obedient and that’s what was important. It wasn’t anything that I needed to worry about. I got that sense of peace that said, “Okay, you’re going to be okay but it’s not going to be easy.” That was fine. I knew I had to do what I had to do.Your health is your wealth. It doesn't matter how much money you have. If you don't have your health, money doesn't matter. Click To Tweet
Do you think that by accepting, it wasn’t going to be easy with that part of it?
I’m a person of strong faith, much faith. I’m a mature woman now. I’ve been through a few things. It was not that I’d been this way all along but after 63 years, you learn a few things after going through a few battles. I look at the positive in everything. No matter what happens, it could look negative but there’s always a positive. That’s what I look for in every situation.
That’s why you’re a lemonade lady. I appreciate the fact that you stepped forward to share your story. I don’t know why health should be a difficult story to share because it’s not like someone goes out and causes themselves to have cancer or as critical or whatever. Often, it’s still a taboo thing. People don’t open up about their cancer experience and whatnot. I believe that there are many people getting diagnosed with cancer and other diseases that if we don’t hear about the positive outcome and the mindsets that go with it, they’re missing something by not getting that. What made you decide to share that?
To be honest, I didn’t share it initially. There were a select few like my family. I had a prayer group and a lot of them were cancer conquerors. My church family didn’t know. My pastor knew but I didn’t talk about it. I was out of church for a while. My husband would go to church and they would say, “Where’s Wendy?” He said, “She’s dealing with something,” but I didn’t put it out there at first because for one, I didn’t want the pity parties.
It’s not that I was afraid that people would know. I didn’t want that attitude or vibe flowing in me at the time. I needed only positivity. The people that I knew were my prayer warrior group and my family. Even with my family, they waited to see how I reacted before they reacted. I had to let them know, “I’m going to be all right. I’m going through some stuff but I’ll be here for weddings, babies, graduates and all that stuff. I’m not going to die right away. Everybody is going to die, but this isn’t going to take me out.”
Once I told them that they were okay with it. Nobody said, “My mom has cancer.” Everybody kept it within the circle because that’s what I needed. I didn’t need all that pity party, “Poor you, you’ve got cancer,” that stuff. I didn’t talk about it until I conquered it. That’s when I started talking about it because that’s what the spirit told me. It was time for me to do it. Prior to that, I knew I didn’t want to put it out there.
I’m a private person anyway, but when I was diagnosed and was going through the chemo, my husband was there every step of the way. My family was supportive and my sister. Everybody was there for me when I needed them, but they gave me the space I needed because they knew I didn’t want to hear about it. I want to do nothing. I’m not going to do anything. They gave me what I needed. Once everything was over, that’s when I talked about it. I didn’t get into all that.
That’s when I started telling people that I had conquered breast cancer because prior to that, I didn’t want the pity party. That was the main reason. I understand why people don’t talk about it but I’ve talked about it enough to release it and not let it eat me up inside, but it was only to a select few people. It wasn’t everybody. Everybody didn’t know my situation.
Did you find yourself changing anything like lifestyle habits and thought processes?
I got to where I lost all this weight. I was like a skeleton with a layer of skin. I lost all my hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, even my finger and toenails. I had none. It’s not just short, but I had nothing. There was nothing on the nail bed or anything. I tried to strengthen my body. I changed my food intake. I started taking supplements and vitamins. I’m diabetic so I do have other issues.
The poison that went into my body had such an effect on it that I had to make some changes. I had to build and boost my immune system again to gain weight, and now to lose too much weight. It was a matter of getting my body back to have the strength where I could do things but I still had a way to go. I’m probably at about 95% but I still can tell the difference in some areas, especially with my brain. I had that chemo brain.
When I was going through it, I was working on my Doctorate degree. I was about to do my oral defense but fortunately, one of my committee members was a breast cancer conqueror. She understood what I was going through. I made it through okay and got my degree. I went to the graduation. You don’t know how good I felt walking across that stage. I made some changes more so in my gratitude.
I’ve always been a grateful person. I don’t let the small stuff sweat me. Even though I never did, but I don’t even let negativity come into my circle. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to see it and I’m not going to tolerate it. In that respect, I’ve clamped down. Overall, I’m still the same me, just older and wiser.
You certainly have snapped back to a great degree because you’re a beautiful lady. We shouldn’t be that worried about physical beauty, but I can’t imagine having no hair, fingernails and eyelashes. It blows my mind. It’s a physical body that comes back that’s resilient.Make sure that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing and that you're impacting the people that you're supposed to impact. Click To Tweet
I’ve got hair and nails now. They’re mine but they may not be real. That’s okay. As long as they got makeup, wigs and nail salons, I’m good.
We can make that choice to say, “I’m not going to sit around and be in a pity party because I don’t have hair. Let’s go find a beautiful wig up there.” We can make those choices and thank goodness, but we can. You’re also upbeat and I do appreciate that. Every time we have a conversation, it is on a positive note. Right now, that’s hard to do. We have a lot of negatives going around between COVID and politics. We are not going there and talking about it. Just the fact that you can maintain that positive attitude, I commend you for that. It’s not easy when you have so much negativity whirling around you.
It’s a conscious effort. I’ve been practicing positivity for so long that’s it’s the way I am. I can get negative every now and then if I have to, but I try to keep it on a positive note. If it gets negative, I try to turn it into a positive. I told some friends of mine, “I’m not a bitch but I can be one if I have to. If you push that button, I can go there.” At this stage of my life, I’m not going to make my blood pressure go up because somebody is tripping. I try to turn it into a positive. If I find that I can’t with them, then I remove them from the environment. I’m not going to let them stay in my circle and pollute my positivity. It’s a conscious effort.
I’m a real believer in general that if we stay in a positive mindset, we stay more physically healthy. I know if I’m trying to lose weight, I can’t lose weight when I’m depressed. When I’m happy and life feels pretty good, then I can and do lose weight. It’s a small example but I noticed it. I very much noticed that my mindset affects how my physical body is feeling. I wish more people could bring that out to help them. My husband is a retired doctor. We don’t talk names because of the HIPAA but we have conversations about people. I’m looking and examining that attitude versus their health.
You’re diabetic. That’s a perfect example. Oftentimes, he had diabetic patients that their mindset was like, “Why me?” It affected their outcome versus those who were very active about their care, and ensuring that they were doing everything that they could to be the healthiest diabetic they could. I have a feeling that you’re going to live until you’re 150.
I’m planning on it. That’s my thing. God willing, I will. If He takes me before then, I’m okay. I’ve lived a good life. I have no regrets and I just want to do His will. When He calls me home, I’ll be ready to go. I want to make sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and impacting the people I’m supposed to impact, and being obedient to where the spirit is leading me. I’m excited about that.
If you do live to 150, you want to make sure that you have enough money in your bank account to get you that far.
Also, good health. As a matter of fact, a friend’s mom passed. She was 103. My husband’s aunt passed in 2020. She was 102. They had their minds. They were surprised. They were up and around. My husband’s aunt got her nails and hair done, and the same with my husband’s friend. They were dynamic women. Age wasn’t a deterrent for them. That’s how I want to be. I want to be up and around traveling, getting my hair and nails done or buying a new wig or whatever it is.
I just want to have my right mind. I pray for that every morning. As a matter of fact, I started praying that specifically once I heard Les Brown say, “Lord, thank you for waking me up in my right mind,” because I know what it’s like not to be able to remember what you’re going to say or what you just said. I know what that chemo brain had done to me, which is probably a taste of what Alzheimer’s and all those other dementia, memory loss type diseases. I don’t want to be where I can’t think right. One of my greatest strengths is my thinking and my writing. I don’t want to lose either of those.
You stand strong with both. I do appreciate you very much for being part of The Lemonade Stand team. I’m excited that you will be in Arizona so we can have our launch party. We’re going to have some fun and do some filming for the TV show. We got a lot of great things that are on onboard. I’m excited that we will be able to go to see you and have you part of all that. Even though I know a date, I never say it because you never know when something is going to happen that’s going to mess up that day, and then you put it out there.
I got it on my calendar. I won’t buy my ticket and everything like I did this time, but I’m still going to be there. God willing, I’m going to be in Arizona, whatever date it is. I’m excited about the launch party, the filming, the book and everything.
It’s such a great group of women. Fortunately, you do know some of them, not all of them but it’s a wonderful group. We will be bonded for life because I found that with my Book 1 author. They said that we were stuck like glue. I’m excited about that. I don’t know if anybody tells you this, but thank you for what you share every day. I know social media has a lot of negative things said about it. I do see and read your post. I do take them to heart and I want to say that I appreciate them.
I appreciate you telling me that because I want to be positive. When I see somebody that’s helping me, I know I have to help others. I do get positive feedback. I’ve had a couple of folks like one group that I left because the admin said, “No more inspirational posts.” It’s like, “What? No more?” I got out of that group because I don’t care about what the topic is, you always need inspiration and positivity. I try to be generic enough where no matter what the subject or topic is, that it’s applicable because positivity is positivity whether it’s about money, weight loss or whatever.
I had to leave that group because my thing is I’m not going to stick around with that. If somebody has control over whether my posts are being shown, I can go where somebody appreciates, and then somebody will post them and not block them every time. Overall, I get good responses. I don’t get too many negative responses. I have a few folks that want to go there but I don’t respond to their response. As I said, that’s their thoughts. What I post, if it’s not changing your mind, I can’t change it and I’m not going to try to.
That’s their mind to change. The thing is you never know when you’re going to say something that hits someone in the way that they need it at that moment. I say, “Keep it up.” I look forward to seeing you. We’ll be having more things going on when you can get to know Wendy a little bit better. We had The Lemonade Legend magazine coming out, in which Wendy will be featured in there as well. We have a lot of opportunities to get to know all the authors much better. Thank you, everyone, for tuning into the show. I appreciate all of you very much. Keep on reading. We’ll keep on telling the lemonade story. Thank you so much to everyone. Have a great day.
About Wendy Labat