My wife just recently retired from teaching and this transition has caused us to examine affordable health care in America. While my wife was employed by the school district we had an affordable health care plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. And while the premiums and deductibles have gone up over the last several years, most of the increases have been absorbed in contract negotiations between the teachers’ union and the school district.
Now that Sherry’s employment contract is coming to an end we have had to look for some other insurance options.
For Sherry she can move into an affordable health care plan through her pension fund. One that would allow her to continue with the same existing coverage she has with Blue Cross Blue Shield for about $250 per month. Given the current environment that’s a pretty affordable health care plan.
However, to keep me on the plan the monthly cost went to almost $1000 per month. Not so affordable.
Which lead me on a search to find affordable health care coverage for myself. My journey will provide you with some food for thought.
Affordable Health Care Options In The General Market
The first place I started was looking at health care plans provided by the insurance industry. The most affordable health care plan I could find for a 64 year old male had the following costs:
Monthly Premium – $812 per month or $9744 per year
Primary Doctor – $50 co pay
All Other Doctors – referrals and cost for services applied to my deductible
Annual Deductible – $7000 per year
And while I could find plans with a lower deductible, the monthly cost for the plan almost doubled. No matter which plan I could choose my yearly out of pocket expense was around $16,000 per year.
Not so affordable and a bit of a crap shoot.
Pay the lower monthly premium and hope you don’t get sick or need a referral.
Pay the higher monthly premium and if you don’t get sick or need a referral you spent a lot of money for peace of mind.
Which lead to the following question: “Are there any alternatives for affordable health care?”
And it turns out that there are.
Affordable Health Care Options Through “Health Care Sharing Ministries”
As everyone knows, the Affordable Health Care Act was pushed through Congress without it being fully read or debated. That process has caused some issues regarding the cost of coverage and number of providers.
But one provision that was tucked in this massive bill was an exemption to mandatory coverage if you were part of a “health care sharing ministry.”
These sharing ministries are not insurance companies but co-ops where members decide what procedures to cover and then pitch in to cover the cost as a group. And while there is no guarantee that a given health bill will be covered, they have a track record of taking care of their members.
Now you can’t just go out and form your own health care sharing ministry. Instead, that type of ministry had to be in existence since 1999 and have an independent accounting firm conduct publicly available annual audits.
Well my daughter and her family have been using one for the last three years. And they love it.
So she asked me to look into it.
And I did. They’re called Samaritan Ministries.
When my wife and I examined their plan our monthly share would be $440 per month.
That provided us with a $623 savings per month. ($250 for Sherry + $812 for Dan = $1063 – $440 for Samaritan Ministries = $623 per month savings.)
And while I’ll have to pay out of pocket expenses for my doctor visits and referrals, I would have had to do that anyway in my regular health insurance plan.
Now these types of plans are not for everyone as there are membership requirements such as:
Acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Attending church services at least three weeks each month.
Abstaining from the use of tobacco and illegal drugs.
Abstaining from any sexual activity outside of traditional Biblical marriage.
Abstaining or limiting the use of alcoholic beverages.
Committed to bearing one another’s medical burdens.
And there are some qualifiers for preexisting conditions. But when we examined everything we felt this was the best affordable health care option for us.
If these types of “health care sharing ministries” are attractive to you, then here are links to several that are available:
These are viable options for affordable health care that allow you to meet the mandates of the Affordable Health Care Act through a Faith Based Ministry designed to share the burden of today’s medical costs.