Most of my articles on this blog are about saving a few dollars here and there. However, it is also important to look at big-picture spending (on things like transportation and taxes). Health insurance is a huge cost for many people in the US. I know of ladies who reluctantly leave their babies at daycare and go to work at jobs they don't like, because of "the benefits"... meaning health care.
Under our new health care policy, everyone is forced to buy health insurance or pay a fee/tax for not having it. The Gold, Silver and Bronze plans are based on a percentage of your annual income, as is the tax. This is great for low-income people or people with a lot of kids, but it is awful for people with no kids or a high household income. Obamacare makes everything fair and unfair at the same time. Can you imagine if Walmart charged a doctor $20 for a box of cereal, but only charged a McDonalds worker $0.50? It sounds ridiculous, but that is how Obamacare is. We all pay different amounts for the same exact care, whether we need the care or not. And if you don't use it, you end up paying for it anyway.
Imagine if the government dictated your budget. 15% for this, 25% for that, 50% for this. Actually, that is what the government already does with taxes and now Obamacare. What will be next- food? Clothes? Transportation? Will we all be forced to buy TVs, so that the poor people can afford TVs as well?
Frugal people don't buy stuff they don't need.
That's the biggest issue I have with health care- I just don't need it. In the last ten years I've been to a doctor three or four times, and every single time I felt ripped off. It's not that I hate doctors, and I'm very thankful to pay for one when I need the services. It's just that most of the time you pay a lot of money for what you get, and then they try to sell you things that you don't need.
For me, it's a scary thing to receive medical care. It's not like Walmart where you walk in, buy what you need and get out. Instead, you walk in, someone else fills up your cart and then you pay the bill. There's really no personal choice or responsibility involved. I'd like to be as involved as I can be in the care of my own body, but hospitals and hospital staff just assume that nobody knows how to take care of themselves, and you're expected to just follow instructions without questioning.
Under Obamacare, all insurance plans are required to cover things I probably won't need: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization (such as surgery), Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born [IN A HOSPITAL]) Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy), prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills), laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
Hmm, maybe the preventative and wellness services are something I could use! Wrong again.
Preventative and wellness services include: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked, Alcohol Misuse screening and counseling, Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages, Blood Pressure screening for all adults, Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk, Colorectal Cancer screening for adults over 50, Depression screening for adults, Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults with high blood pressure, Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease, Hepatitis B screening for people at high risk, including people in countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and U.S.-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, Hepatitis C screening for adults at increased risk, and one time for everyone born 1945 – 1965, HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk, Immunization vaccines for adults, Lung cancer screening for adults 55 - 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years, Obesity screening and counseling for all adults, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk, Syphilis screening for all adults at higher risk, Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users.
Again, most of these "services" are for older people and substance (ab)users. Even a catastrophic insurance is STILL horribly expensive considering the fact that it will not provide any value unless something really bad happens.
Paying for Things You DO Need
Several months after we got married, Hubs and I started looking into an alternative to expensive health insurance (or expensive no-healthcare penalty/tax). We did not see any reason for health insurance apart from avoiding financial disaster resulting from car accidents or other emergencies. Future pregnancies (our only foreseeable health care need) would not be covered by insurance anyway if we chose to use a midwife. We rarely go to the doctor and when we do, it is affordable to just pay out of pocket. For example, the last time Hubs went to the doctor it was to remove a speck of sawdust from his eye. The last time I needed health care was to remove a wisdom tooth. We are healthy young people and don't need hundreds of dollars worth of medications or "check-ups" every month.
In the end, we chose Samaratin Ministries. Samaratin is a cost-sharing program where you publish any health care needs, and other members send you a check in the amount of their monthly "share". Shares are a flat fee and NOT determined by income. The basic monthly fee covers up to $250,000 worth of health expenses per injury/illness. If you are worried that this isn't enough, they have an optional additional program called "Save to Share" for medical costs that exceed the aforementioned limit.
We chose Samaratin after hearing good things about the program from several different families that had published needs successfully.
Cost for Samaratin Ministries
Coverage for one person under age 25 costs $140 per month ($180 for those over 25). Recently Hubs' penalty for not having insurance exceeded the cost of adding him as a Samaratin member, so we added him. Our plan now costs us $280 per month (because one of us is still under age 25). This is a better deal than any insurance plan I could find for the two of us. While Samaratin is not a true "health insurance", members are able to claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare penalty/tax. We would rather be paying for real health care costs for someone else than paying more taxes. If nothing else, joining Samaratin could be cheaper than having no health care at all.
Samaratin does not charge for each person in a family. Families of 3+ people are charged a flat fee of $405 per month. Widowed or divorced families with children are charged a flat fee of $250 per month. Note that the family with seven children is going to pay the same fee as a family with one child.
Not For Everyone
Samaratin Ministries is not a great idea for sick people or the elderly. Needs that began before you became a member are not publishable, so if you become a member and you are a diabetic, then none of your diabetes-related expenses are publishable. It is also not good for smokers, drinkers, or non-Christian people. Samaratin requires that a pastor sign your papers, and that you abstain from smoking, excessive drinking and pre- or extramarital sex. You will have to read the guidelines to see specifics, but I don't believe routine check-ups or any dental care are covered either. This helps keep the cost of shares relatively low. Samaratin actually encourages healthy moms to choose midwives over hospital births because it keeps costs low for everyone.
One more thing: Some people seem to think that it is morally wrong to take "handouts" or participate in government programs. I think this is a bunch of baloney. If I were a low-income mom I would definitely be signing up for Obamacare and also WIC and other government benefits. I don't see it as any different than digging stuff out of a garage sale free box. If it's there, take it!
That being said, I don't think we healthy people should have to pay for problems caused by excessive drinking, smoking, overeating and promiscuous sex, which constitute many of the health care costs covered by insurance. Nor should we have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars per year because we choose not to have insurance.
Recently Hubs and I watched a documentary called "Wait Til It's Free". I would highly recommend it to anyone who is unsatisfied with the current health care system. At the end, the filmmaker provides several solutions to overpriced medical care, bad medical care, and government interference.
Til next time,