Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Medical Needs and First Aid

Health Insurance Alternatives

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mr_freezer:
Greetings,

I don't want this to turn into a rant thread so I'm going to make the background brief:  Our family is looking for an affordable alternative to our current health insurance.  We are a family of 5 with younger kids.  I am not interested in the government options, I choose freedom.

I'll start with what I have found, Christian health sharing programs.  "This isn't for everyone..." I hear that a lot, the question is why not...  Here is what I have learned through my limited research:

These organizations are growing almost exponentially at every new stage of Obamacare implementation.  That is probably a good thing but sometimes, such rapid growth can be a problem. 

The Good:
1. Price:  Presently, we are spending over $15K/yr on premiums.  The Christian Sharing programs, top end coverage, run about $5500 +/- per year. 
2. Money goes directly to those in need.  In 2 of the 5 groups, you send your monthly contribution directly to the person with the medical bill, along with a prayer for them.  You know where your money is going and it isn't down a rat hole.
3. Deductibles are lower (thousands in my case) or are turned into per incident maximums.  i.e. broken arm, you pay $300 - $500, the rest is taken care of by the group.  They also have protections for you if you have too many incidents or rack up an inordinate number of small bills though you may have to plead your case.  I've seen a lot of really positive info on this angle, it sounds like they try to take care of their own on this subject.
4. Stay out of the government system, handing over personal info just to check and see what they have for options, no applying for subsidies... It resembles freedom, how refreshing.
5. Make sure the organization is in fact a legal option to Obamacare.  The ones I've looked at are so I'm including this as a positive.  No IRS fines, you're legally OK, you are covered and you don't contribute directly to propping up Obamacre. 

The mixed:
1. If you don't seek medical care for every little thing, you are rewarded in a system like this.
2. Ethics - The membership has to live a healthier, religiously founded style life.  This can be a problem for some people who do live good, healthy and ethical lives but are technically disqualified because they aren't traditional type Christians.  Abortions aren't covered, which is important to a lot of people. 
3. Preexisting conditions usually aren't covered but some are.  You have to find out what is and isn't.  Example, cancer may be covered if you are cleared and untreated for 7 years.  They are in this to keep costs down and this is how
4. Some levels have limiting lifetime maximums for costs, but it isn't much of a cost increase to take care of most of that issue by stepping up to the highest level.  They all sound like they try to have protections in place for people with truly catastrophic problems.

The Bad:
1. There may be some disqualifying factors that are deal breakers for you.  I'm trying to get clarification for example, from one group who, by the sounds of it, won't cover people while they are at work, including self-employed... that wouldn't work for us as we farm.
2. Know the things that are/aren't covered very, very well and ask questions, don't assume.  The people I have talked to from these organizations are very clear when I have asked questions about coverage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, one organization won't pay for the ambulance or chopper ride to the hospital and since we are very rural, this is something we need to be aware of going into this. FYI, they do cover a chopper/ambulance from one treatment center to another if necessary.
3. That same group has very sharp penalties for late/missing shares (monthly/annual payments) and perhaps the others are that way too.  I'm not advocating delinquency but stuff can happen and if that throws you out of the system, that can be devastating depending on your situation.  I have no idea what their appeal systems are like but it  needs a mention.
4.Government rules won't let you use an HSA (Health Savings Account) in conjunction with these programs.  There is a bill hiding in someone's desk in Congress to fix that but nobody is holding their breath.  We currently have an HSA and I need clarification on my options for using the funds already in there.  I can't believe I wouldn't have access to those that are already there but... you know government.

Well, that's probably enough to start with.  Please help me if you know anything, we are close to making the decision to go this route and I have more info to share, I can list the groups I have looked at in my next post and talk about what I have learned about each if there is interest. If there are other options out there, I'd like to know about them too.

mnotlyon:
We've just been through the same thought process that you are currently in. In January we started with Samaritan Ministries. So far, we haven't had any problem with them cashing our checks. I hope not to find out if it works like it's supposed to. :)

I know a number of people that have  used them for over a decade. One of them has been diagnosed with parkinson's disease AND bladder cancer. They told me everything was paid exactly as the plan describes.

Bonnieblue2A:
Is it still possible to go to a private insurance broker and self-insure your family?  I am still self-insured with a high deductible plan (HSA qualified).  I was told that Obamacare would eliminate it since it is really "catastrophic only coverage. But, it appears it was grandfathered in for one more year per the insuring company (BC/BS)/

fred.greek:
For those who want to, I see no rational reason why individuals / families cannot create a "health savings account (HSA) with a supplemental "catastrophic" policy outside the HSA funds.  Every year there are no major expenses, the HSA grows, reducing the catastrophic policy needs. 

We typically do not have billed each year medical costs that reach what we pay in health insurance…

mnotlyon:

--- Quote from: Bonnieblue2A on February 03, 2015, 08:08:45 PM ---Is it still possible to go to a private insurance broker and self-insure your family?  I am still self-insured with a high deductible plan (HSA qualified).  I was told that Obamacare would eliminate it since it is really "catastrophic only coverage. But, it appears it was grandfathered in for one more year per the insuring company (BC/BS)/

--- End quote ---

Yep, it's still possible. However, the insurance that is offered must meet obamacare guidelines. That's what I had, and wanted to keep. My policy was canceled, and replaced with one that had a 20% higher deductible, and a 90% higher premium. I simply couldn't afford to pay nearly $1,000 per month for insurance that covered NOTHING until I had $12,000 out of pocket.

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