A Sane Solution for Healthcare Costs
Whether Obamacare’s 22 percent premium hikes announced shortly before the presidential election helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be parsed by political commentators for years to come.
However, this much is certain: no matter what Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress do next year, the die is already cast for 2017. What you see now with health care premiums is what you will get for another year.
So, for anyone staring at a massive bill and wondering how the average person is supposed to afford them, I have a suggestion: skip traditional insurance and go directly to a health-cost sharing ministry plan.
Such plans provided for our medical needs for 20 years. During those two decades, they paid for my wife’s cancer surgery and gall bladder removal, plus my heart stents, double bypass, and a back-induced trip through physical therapy.
Along the way, I lost track of the exact total, but I know the expenses added up to more than $250,000. I still remember the friend who I recommended a plan to; she responded, “I need a guarantee.” Well, if a quarter of a million dollars isn’t convincing enough, then you’re not likely to be persuaded.
All four plans have a two-decade (or longer) history of helping Christians pay other Christians’ health care expenses. According to what I’ve read, enrollment in them is rising quickly, spurred on by the staggering cost of traditional insurance.
Even in pre-Obamacare days, I encountered several freelance or self-employed people like myself who were all paying triple our monthly amount. When one friend told me his premiums were $1,100 a month, I said, “If that’s what somebody told me it would cost, I guess I would just take my chances.”
Recently an acquaintance told me his health-and-dental plan is running $1,150 a month, at which point I suggested he considered a sharing plan. He agreed that a $1,000-a-month savings sounded pretty good. A sharing plan won’t pay his dental bills, but an extra $12,000 a year will probably cover them.
It’s not just the monthly premiums that will eat many families’ budgets alive. A recent analysis found that deductibles for people enrolled in the lowest-priced plans will average more than $6,000 in 2017, the first time in three years they have gone that high.
When an old friend told me he had secured an Obamacare policy a couple years ago that included a $6,000 deductible (and another $6,000 for his wife), I said, “If we had to shell out $12,000 for surgery, we’d go broke.”
The success of health-cost-sharing plans relies partially on members taking steps to negotiate discounts and price-shop for various services and procedures, a method that has proven remarkably effective.
The idea used to intimidate me, until I realized that doing so could mean thousands of dollars in savings over the long haul. Thinking that everything will be fine with some tweaks—or even the replacement—of Obamacare is an exercise in wishful thinking.