Affordable Health Care
It seems like the world of healthcare and insurance is changing daily to the point where it’s so confusing now it’s hard to get a good hold on what we need, what we can afford, and what is really beneficial to us. With big changes coming to this area of our lives after the beginning of the year it’s important to go over all your options and make the best choice for your family.
Just over a year ago we found out that with my husband’s new job he would not receive any insurance. (We could get a small discount on some insurance they offered but it was very expensive.) So we started looking into plans. Cobra was too high for us to afford and we weren’t interested in a super high deductible plan that really wouldn’t do us much good since we rarely visited the doctor.
I’d heard a recommendation from a friend to look into a sharing network. At that point I’d never heard of them before so I did a little research. A sharing network is a community of like minded individuals that help pay towards each other’s healthcare costs. That means each month, you don’t send money to a company or corporation, the money goes right to another individual that is paying a medical bill. It sounded like a pretty neat plan so we decided to dig into it even further and speak to some companies to get the exact details.
Each sharing network is slightly different for what they offer, and how much they are per month. They also may have slightly different regulations on who can join. I believe that none will cover pre-existing conditions. We are with Samaritan’s Ministries for a few reasons. Mainly because there is no deductible and the costs are a little lower than the others. For our home it costs us $235 per month for our part. Here’s how that works…
Each month we get the monthly newsletter in the mail with tips, news, and other info from our network. On the front page there is a name and an address of the individual we will be sending our check to that month along with how we can pray for them. Once we receive that we simply write the check and a note of encouragement and send it on to the individual to help them pay their bills.
Since we’ve had this coverage we’ve also had the chance to have help with our own bills. Early in 2013 I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and 2 large endometriomas (benign tumors). I have to receive care every couple of months and I’ve been in the ER once as well for extreme pain. Under our plan, everything has been paid for by other members of our sharing network besides the initial $300. Not only is it amazing to have these bills paid for but usually with each check comes a letter of encouragement that someone else is thinking of you during your difficult time.
Something else we’ve discovered with being a “self pay” customer at clinics and pharmacies is that most of the time if you ask, you will be able to get a discount. We’ve been able to successfully get discounts at both doctor’s offices and on prescriptions simply by asking. There are several discount prescription cards you can sign up for. One thing we’ve found to be very beneficial with prescriptions is just to call around to different pharmacies and find out the price differences. Often larger discount stores like Sam’s Club and Costco offer discounts for you having a membership.
How do these sharing networks go along with the new Affordable Care Act? There is a section in the law that states that any healthcare sharing network that has been in operation since 1999 is exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules and regulations. That means that those involved in these networks do not have to receive any further coverage and they will not have to pay any fines for not having “real insurance”. (Note, there are only 4 organizations that qualify for this exemption: Samaritan’s Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Liberty Healthshare, and Christian Care.)
Even though it’s not traditional insurance, we’ve been doing well with this kind of plan. We also try and eat as healthy as possible and we use preventative care like chiropractors. We also purchased accident coverage (for a mere $30 a month) that covers any bigger accidents we might have like an ambulance ride, or if we would need to stay in a hospital, or even if we have a broken tooth (ask me how I know they cover that one! 🙂 ) It’s just a little backup. Someday our needs may change but this is what works for us for now. Plus we are happy with the price and being able to send our check each month to someone that really needs it.
Would this type of affordable health care work for everyone? No. Especially if you have quite a few pre-existing conditions that need to be covered. This is simply what works for us and I thought today I’d take the time to share it with our readers in case any of you are searching. Healthcare can be such a huge part of monthly expenses and we definitely know how hard it can be to come up with that monthly payment.
Last note….if you do decide to go with Samaritan’s Ministries we would be very blessed if you used our name (Merissa Alink) as a referral. That’s another great thing about them…if those that you refer join the network you get part of your payment taken off your bill! 🙂
Have you ever heard of a healthcare sharing network? If you are part of one, share your experiences with us below!
*Note: This blog is not a place to discuss politics so please remember that when you comment. This is simply an article about insurance and helping you make the best decision for your family. Any rude or political comments will be removed. Please see our Comment policy for more info.