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Alternatives To High Health Insurance Premiums and Co-Pays

By Richard Emmons

My family has gone without health insurance for 17 of the 23 years we’ve lived in Oregon. Did I worry about this? Not at all.

Instead of traditional health insurance, we have been members of Samaritan Ministries, a health care sharing program. Each month we get the name and address of a Samaritan Ministries member who has been sick or injured. We write a check for under $500 and mail it directly to the person. We also pray for his or her recovery. Over the years we’ve saved over $150,000 this way.

With Samaritan Ministries, each member is responsible for the first $400 of a medical incident. The amount over $400 is shared by the other members.  Thankfully, we have never made a request for other participants to send us money.

Health care sharing ministries were given an exemption from the health insurance mandates of the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka Obamacare. Remember hearing this? “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” This was actually true with my plan and other health care sharing ministries.

Here are nine medical cost-sharing programs to investigate. They are not for everyone, but one might be perfect for you. Do your homework to find the right program for you and your family. I have no financial interest in any of these organizations and can only vouch for Samaritan Ministries.

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) is “a budget-friendly, biblical and compassionate health care cost solution for Christians in all 50 states and around the world. We’re not health insurance; rather, we’re the first and longest-serving health cost sharing ministry, having shared over $6 billion in our members’ medical bills.”

Liberty HealthShare “offers health-conscious individuals and families an affordable way to share medical care expenses in a like-minded community. Liberty HealthShare is not insurance. We are a Christian membership-based, non-profit organization where we help facilitate the voluntary sharing between members to pay each other’s medical costs.”

Medi-Share: “Instead of meeting a deductible and paying monthly premiums to a corporate institution, Medi-Share members meet an Annual Household Portion and pay a Monthly Share. Eligible Medical Bills are shared by members who also encourage and pray for one another. Medi-Share works on behalf of members to negotiate discounts and facilitate direct payment to providers.”

Samaritan Ministries: “Medical bills shared, financial gifts received. A hands-on approach to health care. Choose your doctor, submit your bills, and fellow members will be directed to send financial gifts and pray for you.”

Sedera: “Medical Cost Sharing is peer-to-peer sharing of large, unexpected medical costs through a membership-based Community.”

Solidarity HealthShare “supports you and your family by lowering your medical bills, providing you with a team of care professionals to help you navigate the health care system, and giving you peace of mind knowing your health care dollars are used ethically.”

Share Healthcare is “an easy and modern way to share health care expenses with your friends and neighbors online. We are a non-profit organization of members who strive to be healthy and active individuals utilizing the latest technology to voluntarily share health care costs through our direct member-to-member direct cost sharing.”

Zion Health is “a nonprofit medical cost sharing program that provides an organized structure for members to contribute toward each other’s medical costs. We offer a proven and effective alternative to health insurance.”

CrowdHealth “gives you your health care freedom back without breaking the bank.  With CrowdHealth, everything becomes simple and transparent: we pay bills super fast and help you find high-quality care at a fair price – all for one low monthly rate.”

Direct Primary Care is another non-insurance health care approach to consider. With DCP, you pay a flat amount per month to your physician. You receive longer office visits, telemedicine after hours, and lab tests and prescription drugs at deep discounts. Here are two Grants Pass physicians offering Direct Primary Care programs:

You’ll be surprised how many different patient services are included in the monthly membership fee. DCP programs do not cover major medical expenses, so consider combining a DCP program with a health share ministry program.

These health care programs let you avoid the high cost and complexity of traditional insurance programs while providing coverage for you and your family.

Richard Emmons is the publisher and editor of the Josephine County Eagle.