I was recently emailing with a friend who is also self-employed and the thread turned to health insurance. Not in a political, ‘can you believe what is going on with healthcare!’ kind of way, but in a personal, ‘seriously, how are you guys affording healthcare this year?’
The reality is that when you’re self-employed, the health insurance options available today are terrible, and on top of that they’re crazy expensive. The other reality is that you can’t afford NOT to have health insurance. When the number one reason for personal bankruptcy is medical bills, some form of healthcare insurance is a must-have if you don’t want to end up living in your parent’s basement. To quote my buddy, he stated how “[health insurance] is our largest single bill and so I’m always wondering if there’s a hack or trick I’m missing.” While I wouldn’t consider it a trick, I can say that we’re lucky enough to not have to pay insane insurance premiums, because:
We don’t have health insurance. We have a healthcare sharing plan.
For the past year, our family has been with Medi-Share, where we pay $240 per month for our family of 5 (granted, we have set a higher ‘deductible’ at $7,500), but this is a mere fraction of what we used to pay in insurance premiums! And best of all, these plans are ACA compliant which means you avoid the individual mandate penalty.
First, what are we even talking about? Generally speaking, a healthcare sharing plan is an organization that facilitates sharing of healthcare costs among individual members who have common ethical or religious beliefs. Sound familiar? Essentially these programs act just like insurance! They’re obviously not for everyone, but for a lot of individuals and families looking for healthcare alternatives, this is the solution! Healthcare sharing plans are much cheaper than traditional health insurance and they also satisfy the requirements of Obamacare. So this means that you won’t get hit with the penalties for not having traditional insurance. You’re welcome!
There are several different healthcare sharing ministries out there, but there were three that we considered when doing our research: Medi-Share, Liberty Healthshare, and Samaritan Ministries. They each had different pros and cons, but in the end, Medi-Share rose to the top. We decided to go with them because we wanted something that felt familiar (it behaves like traditional health insurance) while at the same time being the most affordable option. So a few things to cover:
How our Medi-Share plan works
- Instead of paying monthly insurance premiums we pay a monthly ‘share’ amount based on my age and the number of family members covered. “…Members deposit their monthly share into their sharing account and it goes directly into a fellow member’s sharing account to pay their medical bills…”
- We also get the amazing ‘Health Incentive Discount’ which saves us about $50 a month! I really like the fact that Medi-Share encourages its members to be healthy. That keeps healthcare costs down for all of us.
- Costs are also able to be kept low because there are some restrictions when it comes to pre-existing conditions (like maternity care). You won’t be denied membership if you have a pre-existing condition, but there may be coverage limits. Please be sure to look up your specific condition if this might affect you.
- There isn’t a deductible but instead, an Annual Household Portion (AHP) where we chose to go with $7,500 to keep monthly costs down. The range of choices for AHP is $500-$10,000 and, of course, the higher amount you choose the lower your monthly share payment will be. But similar to insurance, that dollar amount is how much we are responsible to pay toward eligible medical bills. After that, “…ALL eligible medical bills will be submitted for sharing for the entire household.”
- Be prepared to pay for all medical expenses out of pocket until you reach your AHP! This will likely take some getting used to since it’ll feel like you’re getting nickeled and dimed every time you go in to see the doctor. It will also mean that you’ll need to have a fair amount stashed in the bank for possible medical bills each year. For us, this wasn’t new since we were used to paying high out-of-pocket costs with our high deductible plans in previous years.
- Keep in mind that Medi-Share is not technically insurance, but for us, it acts just like insurance. Taken straight from the Medi-Share site: “…Medi-Share is not insurance. Medi-Share is a healthcare sharing program where Christians share their financial resources to pay each other’s medical expenses…”
- This is how the ‘claims’ process works: “Members do not file claims, nor does the ministry handle claims because we are not an insurance company. If your eligible medical bill is paid, it is paid with funds received directly from another member. Members present their member ID card to their service provider. The service provider then discounts the bill accordingly, if within the Preferred Provider Organization network. The bill is then sent to us where we negotiate for further discounts. Here, we review the services provided to determine if the bill is eligible for sharing. After the AHP has been met and if the bill is eligible, it is eligible for sharing among the other members.”
- You can apply to join whenever you want- there is no open enrollment period! So that means if you’ve started a new traditional health insurance plan, you can join Medi-Share at any point, cancel your traditional health insurance, and then be amazed at the money you’re now saving!
There are a few big names out there in addition to Medi-Share so be sure to check them out and do your homework. And I also know that the religious/ethical basis for these organizations won’t be for everyone. But after a full year with Medi-Share we know this was the best option for our growing family. If you are not happy with the traditional health insurance options and their skyrocketing costs, you really need to check it out.
Here’s how much we’ve saved with Medi-Share
Some real numbers: for 2017, we were going to be spending $10,224 on premiums alone for a plan that had a deductible at $7,500 on the healthcare marketplace. With Medi-Share, we’ve paid just $2,880 on premiums. We had a fairly healthy year of typical doctor appointments so our total out of pocket for all of those (plus any prescriptions) comes to $1,053.
So for 2017, had we been covered by the traditional health insurance plan we would’ve paid a total of $11,277 for all healthcare expenses (monthly premiums plus out of pocket medical since it was a high deductible plan). Instead we were covered by Medi-Share and paid a total of $3,933 for everything! That’s a savings of $7,344 that we didn’t have to pay to some inefficient insurance company!!!
Save a ton! – click here to check out Medi-Share!
Are we the only ones?! Who else out there has tried Medi-Share or another healthcare sharing ministry? And there are a lot of smaller details I left out so if you have any questions, comment below and I’ll get back to you with our experience!
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