Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Trust in the Lord

A few years have passed since we looked at Christian health care sharing ministries as an alternative to real health insurance, and perhaps it is time to visit them again. Back in 2007 we posted Pennies From Heaven, a post that attracted attention but never really gained traction.  

That was then.

This is now.

Fast forward 7 years and we are in full blown Obamacare. Cancelled health insurance plans. High rates. Higher deductibles. Higher out of pocket.

As if this isn't enough, a recent poll said 63% of the nation does not like Obamacare.

Imagine that . . .

All these things coming together mean there are a lot of people looking for lower priced options. Hospital indemnity plans are a weak substitute. Short term medical (STM) would be a better choice but those have limitations as well.

But how about these Christian ministry programs where your cost of medical care is shared among members that are also believers?
Daniel and Katlyn Street don't have health insurance. But they do have a new baby girl, a new approach to health care and something they weren't expecting at all – a new handmade quilt.
The quilt arrived Thursday, sent by someone they have never met, who – along with scores of other people around the nation – also sent money, notes of encouragement and prayers on behalf of the young Seaford couple as they welcomed little Adelyn last fall.
Obamacare doesn't work like that
Delaware Online 
The quilt is a nice touch.

And yes, you won't get an Obamacare quilt following the birth of your baby.

But are these programs (they are not insurance) worth the gamble? Should you rely on the kindness of others to pay your medical bills? What if they don't pay? Or they pay, but you are still left with unpaid bills? Even worse, what if your request (claim) is denied? Which regulatory authority has oversight and can intervene on your behalf?

Most of these questions were addressed before and the same answers apply now.

You don't have insurance, you have a walk of faith. Please understand I am not being critical. Religion is a good thing and so is a public acknowledgement of your beliefs.

But if the program doesn't pay you are stuck with the bill.

There are no financial guarantees. 

Not for you (the member).

Not for the medical provider.

This is key. If your doctor and hospital do not have a guarantee they will be paid for your planned treatment, how often do you think they will require cash up front?

It can happen.

What do you do then?

You can raise the money yourself, and maybe with the help of your group. You can ask for charity. You can delay your treatment until the next Obamacare open enrollment.

That's pretty much it.

Since these sharing programs are not compliant with Obamacare rules, you will owe a tax penalty for failure to have a government approved plan.
Unlike the Affordable Care Act, which forbids exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions, these plans usually will not consider such conditions as eligible for shares.
That's something to consider.

At least with an Obamacare plan you will have full coverage for your pre-ex condition.

So what about the leap of faith?
"I have absolute faith that God is going to provide for us," he said. "I have no doubt about that."
That's great, and I am not one to cast stones. But if you are looking for a lower cost alternative to Obamacare those short term medical plans look to me like a much better option.
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