Janice Whitman had heard thousands of healthcare horror stories over the years.
As a customer service representative at a healthcare company, it was her job to listen to these stories over and over again.
Bills stiffed… hidden costs…. lives ruined by the fine print…
But she never in her wildest dreams imagined she would be on the other side of the phone.
After all, she knew all the healthcare pitfalls that folks fall for.
“And for Pete’s sake, my employer was my healthcare provider,” says Janice. “It doesn’t make any sense for them to try and screw me over, ya know?”
Or so she thought.
When Janice’s baby was born, her healthcare company, her employer, refused to pay the bill.
They said that because the baby was born early (by three days!) she clearly lied about when she became pregnant.
“They called my baby a ‘pre-existing condition’,” says Janice. “Can you believe that? Now I’m being sued by my employer all over three days!”
I’d like to say I’m shocked at this story.
I’d like to say this kind of behavior, from a company that is supposed to specialize in care, surprises me.
But it doesn’t.
Our healthcare system is a mess.
The government have let the big insurance companies into the chicken coop and they are gorging themselves on our wallets.
But what other options, if any, do we have?
As it turns out, more than you would think.
All this week, we’re going to be looking at the best alternative healthcare options, offering affordable monthly payments and zero restrictive networks.
Medical Cost Sharing Ministries
Medical cost sharing ministries are simply groups of like-minded individuals who share their medical expenses among their members. The term health sharing ministries comes from Christian-based ministries that have been in existence long before the enactment of Obamacare.
Medical cost sharing ministries are not technically considered insurance and therefore are not governed by state insurance boards… but they are in fact recognized and protected by the Affordable Care Act.
In other words, you will not be fined if you’re a member of a health sharing ministry. (The Senate has eliminated the penalty for not buying health insurance in their sweeping tax reform legislation but this does not take effect until 2019.)
There are a few restrictions to keep in mind when considering joining a sharing ministry. Some of these could be deal breaker for you, depending on how you like to live your life.
• No restrictive networks, so you can go to any doctor or hospital you choose
• Affordable monthly payments… as low as $200 per month
• Members share amounts as high as $1 million per medical incident
• No outside coercion from bureaucrats or insurance agents.
• Since it’s not insurance, you are not protected by the pre-existing clause. If you have a pre-existing condition, it will not be covered
• You have no legal recourse if they refuse to pay
• You must abide by their stated guidelines and lifestyle expectations which include the following:
1. Refrain from tobacco use in any form.
2. Follow scriptural teachings on use or abuse of alcohol.
3. Avoid abuse of prescription drugs.
4. Abstain from the use of illegal drugs.
5. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods that do not harm the body.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of having my living habits and beliefs under constant scrutiny. But that’s just me.
If all that sounds good to you, here are some of your best options for medical sharing ministries.
Liberty HealthShare is the program name of the Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan that has been sharing costs since 1995.
Enrolling in Liberty HealthShare is simple and only takes about 15 minutes. The sign-up fee is $135, which is refunded if you are not accepted.
Once accepted, you have three programs from which to choose.
The most basic plan is the Liberty Share, in which 70% of eligible medical bills are shared up to $125,000 per incident.
The next level up is the Liberty Plus, which shares 100% of eligible medical bills up to $125,000.
Their most comprehensive program is the Liberty Complete, which shares 100% of eligible medical bills up to $1 million per incident.
The most expensive plan is the Liberty Complete family plan, which is a share amount of $579 per month.
For the Liberty HealthShare plans, there are out-of-pocket (or unshared) amounts, which range from $1,000–2,250 depending on the program you choose.
Christian Health Care Ministries (CHM)
Founded in 1981, CHM is the original health care sharing ministry for Christians.
Their three program options are Gold, Silver and Bronze. The Gold program is $150 per month per member.
Your out-of-pocket deductible is called “personal responsibility,” which is $500 per year for this Gold level.
As their monthly share amount goes down for the Silver and Bronze program levels, your personal responsibility increases.
Their most affordable monthly share program, the Bronze level, is only $45 per unit per month, and it comes with a $5,000 personal responsibility before sharing kicks in.
You will need to collect all the medical provider bills yourself and submit them to CHM for payment.
Medi-Share is part of the Christian Care Ministry Inc., which is a Florida-based not-for-profit corporation.
Their payment amounts are based upon how many applicants are registering and the age of the oldest applicant. Their website contains a “Share Calculator,” where you select the number of applicants, along with the birthdate of the oldest applicant.
After entering my birth year of 1969, I was provided with seven payment options, which ranged between $159-381.
The lowest monthly payment amount came with a steep $10,000 deductible. While the highest monthly payment of $381 came with a $1,250 AHP.
Medi-Share has a health incentive program in which the monthly share amounts are reduced by up to 20% for members who meet the health incentive standards.
These standards are determined by waist measurements, BMI and blood pressure.
Medi-Share also offers a discount program for dental, vision and hearing.
NOTE: As part of the Medi-Share application process, you will have to make a statement of faith.
If a health sharing ministry isn’t right for you, don’t despair. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. And there’s more than one way to save money on healthcare.
To be honest, I had no idea about 90% of these strategies myself until recently.
But last month, I was able to get my hands on a preview copy of Jud Anglin’s new book The Big Book Of Health Care Secrets… and it blew me away.
Mind you, when I saw this book, it wasn’t quite finished yet. But it was already packed with simple strategies to save thousands on hospital stays and surgical procedures.
Jud has even included some bizarrely easy ways to get up to 80% discounts on insurance premiums, prescription drugs, blood tests, MRIs and CT exams.
It’s incredible stuff. Click here if you’d like to know more and find out how to get a copy of Jud’s book for yourself.
All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis