I've had pneumonia for the last three weeks.

BenefitsActually, it's worse than that. I've had pneumonia and bronchitis, both coming on the heels of Nate having an appendectomy and all of us getting a gnarly stomach infection called Clostridium difficile. Don't even get me started. It's been a tedious beginning to the year.

I've been elbows deep in paperwork and medical benefits and doctor's visits and haven't felt inclined to share all that nonsense with you guys. Honestly, it makes me SO happy to have a mostly-positive space here to land. A place where I can share the good news and (hopefully) offer up some sort of positive learnings for other people. I've gotten a ton of emails and tweets lately telling me how helpful a recipe or parenting or travel post has been. That stuff can really buoy me up when I'm having a hard series of days.

Write your benefits... quoteMedical insurance and benefits, though, they really are a critical part of life…especially in this political economy where our wallets have been impacted by recent policies. We don't get political over here, but the simple truth is that many families like us are having to reassess their health stance. It's a wise thing to do, in any case, preparing for contingencies. Educating yourself puts your family in a place of power and security.

We're deeply analyzing insurance company options due to some of those shifting costs in our lives, and in the midst of all this I've been listening to a lot of Dave Ramsey. He recommends an HSA – Health Savings Plan – as a good alternative to PPOs and HMOs. A month ago, I didn't even know this was a thing! So I did a bunch of research, and I'm definitely leaning towards an HSA for us.

With a PPO, you can get care from any doctor without a referral. With a typically-cheaper HMO, you have a primary care physician who helps you make decisions about your health care by referring you out to other providers that your insurance company has contracted with. In a sense, the HMO model is like having doctors on retainer for the entire group of people who are covered. That commitment and the limitations on people setting their own (potentially frivolous) appointments is what makes it cheaper.

An HSA, though, is a whole different ballgame. HSAs generally cover all preventive care but have high deductibles that come out of a tax-advantaged savings account established for the insured person. This creates a safety net and a cap on how much the person spends in case of emergency, but unused funds belong to the insured as opposed to disappearing each year. How cool is that? For a relatively healthy family like us, in our small-business-owning self-employed situation, it could actually save a ton of money.

Learn something new every day.

When's the last time you assessed your family's health insurance?